Pickled summer squash with basil


It’s summer squash time! For this recipe I mixed yellow crook-neck squash with a green zucchini from the garden. I spiced them with garlic, red onion, basil, and black mustard seeds. I threw in a few carrots to fill up the jar. Here are the ingredients:


I chopped the larger squash into quarters lengthwise and left the smaller ones whole. The carrots I quartered as well. Similarly-sized veggies will ferment at the same speed, giving you predictable pickles. I cut half the onion into wide strips to make them easy to spear with a fork and left the peeled garlic cloves in one piece. Here they all are, ready to go:


I used Thai basil because I had a bunch of it in the fridge. An Italian variety would probably be more classic. I stuffed everything into a half-gallon jar, and it turned out that I only needed one carrot to fill it out. The rest went back in the fridge. The jar was so packed that the veggies showed no sign of budging when I filled it with brine:


They were so tight in there that I wasn’t worried they would float to the surface where they might meet airborne mold-causing microorganisms. So I didn’t use a jar to keep the vegetables submerged as I did in my pickled asparagus recipe. Nor did I use extra vegetables to make a seal, as I did in the post on how to pickle anything. I’ll have to check on it to make sure the veggies stay submerged, though. (If you jam them in this way, be sure to check on them as often as once a day because they do tend to float up to the surface, and sometimes the brine level changes, which can lead to gross growth on the parts poking out of the water!) All I did was screw a lid on loosely so that carbon dioxide can escape as fermentation kicks in. If I didn’t, pressure might build up and fizz over when I open it later. Then I put the jar in a dark cabinet. It’s been hot the past few days, so the squash might be ready to eat in a week. If it gets cooler again, then two or three weeks should do it. Yum.

Ingredients for 1/2 gallon summer squash pickles:

-8 summer squash/zucchini (adjust number depending on size)
-1/2 red onion
-5 cloves garlic
-4 stems basil with leaves attached
-1 tablespoon mustard seeds
-4 cups water mixed with 3 tablespoons uniodized salt
-1-2 carrots to fill out the jar as necessary

Wash the veggies and basil. Chop off the ends of the squash and carrots, peel the garlic, and chop off the bottoms of the basil stems. Cut the half onion into long, wide slices—about three cuts. Fill the jar with the veggies and basil, standing the squash and carrots all on end, with some basil head up and some head down. Add the onions and garlic on the early side so that they end up in the bottom two thirds of the jar where they’re less likely to float to the surface. Pour in the mustard seeds near the end and shake the jar to distribute them. Save some squash and carrot spears for last; as the hardest and longest ingredients, they’re the easiest to pack in to fill up empty space.

Fill the jar with the brine until the veggies are completely covered. You may not need all four cups. If you’re worried the vegetables will float to the surface, use a jar or some carrot slices laid across the mouth of the jar under the lip, as in this post, to keep everything under the brine. Put a towel or loose lid over the jar to keep out dust. Leave the jar in a dark place for one to three weeks, depending on the temperature and your taste. Check on the pickles every day or two, especially at the beginning, to be sure they’re still under the brine. Once they’re pickled to your liking, store them in the fridge with a lid on tight, so you don’t spill pickle juice everywhere.

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  1. Rob Conner’s avatar

    Thank you. I’ve been looking for recipes on fermented veggies other than just cabbage as the main ingredient.

  2. mariah’s avatar

    Very excited about trying to pickle some extra yellow squash the natural way. Curious though if there is a way to seal and store in the pantry when done pickling for longer storage outside of the fridge? Any thoughts on longer term storage?

  3. David Klingenberger’s avatar

    I like you awesome pickle! Thank you for having wonderful fermented vegetable ideas!

  4. Eric’s avatar

    Mariah, if you want to store them for a long time you could can them, but doing that will kill the friendly microbes and might change the texture of the veggies, too. I’m not sure because I haven’t done it. You can also leave them in the pantry longer than the 1-2 weeks it takes to ferment them. I sometimes do big jars of cucumbers and carrots that don’t fit in the fridge and they taste fine after even a couple months at room temperature. You just want to keep an eye on them because the fermentation will continue so the taste and texture of the veggies will keep changing, and you want to remove any mold that grows on the surface of your water seal.

  5. Rosemarie’s avatar

    Nice site, loved all the fermented recipes. I am making my first jars and am very excited.
    I usually use vinegar for pickles but this is much better, easier and faster and maybe even a little cheaper.
    I can’t wait. I love the idea of just making one jar if that is all the veggies you have at the moment. I often have just a handful of some veg and wind up tossing it out.
    You should write a book with all your recipes.
    thank you

  6. Eva’s avatar

    Will fermented veggies grow botchulism?

  7. Eric’s avatar

    @Eva The short answer is that it’s very unlikely. Check out this post of mine for more info: http://awesomepickle.com/archives/183

  8. David’s avatar

    What do you recommend if there is a healthy layer of mold growing on the top?

  9. Eric’s avatar

    @David, I keep an eye on the surface and spoon off any mold islands that start to form. You can never get 100 percent of the scum that forms up there but it’s good to keep up with it. The pickles are safe if they’re under the brine. There’s a picture of the mold spots I look for so as to catch them early at the bottom of this post.

  10. Rochelle’s avatar

    Where can I find the recipe for the brine? This is my first time pickling so I want to be sure to do it right.


  11. Eric’s avatar

    @Rochelle Use 4 cups water mixed with 3 tablespoons uniodized salt for the brine. Have fun!

  12. Rochelle’s avatar

    Eric –

    I worked on this over the weekend and it’s now Wednesday (4 days in) and there is quite a foam on the top of the mason jars. They are stored in a cabinet nested in a tupperware in case they spill, with a towel over the top to keep dust/dirt out.

    Is this normal. I checked your other posting about mold spots and there only seems to be a small amount of foam, mine is quite thick and covers the entire top.

    Love your blog also!! This is my first time pickling/fermenting and you have made it so easy to follow. Thanks!!

  13. Eric’s avatar

    @Rochelle, foam is normal (although it doesn’t always happen) and probably caused by carbon dioxide released during fermentation. Just skim it off. Happy pickling, I hope you like how they come out.

  14. Stacey’s avatar

    Love this recipe! Question! Can green beans be mixed in this ferment? I have looked at other recipes and just don’t see beans mixed in and not sure why! Anyone know?

  15. Freshiiiie’s avatar

    Hi Stacey, you can mix in the green beans, no problem.


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