Pickling a Pot of Patty Pan

September 3rd, 2009 / Comments 8

When I was seven, I helped my Aunt Anne, whom we called Antenna, make pickles. It was a hot, sticky day in late August and my favorite cousin, Sis, and I were invited to help in the cool cellar.

Pickling Pot c egbert1 Pickling a Pot of Patty Pan

There were baskets of pickling cucumbers, bunches of fresh dill, dill seeds, garlic, jugs of vinegar, boxes of mason jars, rubber rings and lids, enough supplies for a small factory. The cellar was primitive, with two large stone laundry sinks and two gas burners that were used exclusively for pickling or canning. Cucumbers floated in cold water in the deep sinks. I was the cucumber-sorter, a perfect job for a hot day.

I stood on an up-turned box, up to my elbows in cold water.  After making sure each cucumber was clean and didn’t have any soft spots, I transferred it from the left sink to the right sink. The day was hot but within ten minutes I was wet from the waist up, delighted to be as cool as the cucumbers.

The jars jingled as they boiled in the enormous black pot. After Antenna pulled a jar from the pot with tongs, Sis’s job was to drop one garlic clove and one sprig of dill into each jar. All the while, Antenna referred to a small, old notebook filled with small, scratchy hand written notes that I was unable to read. I realize now, it wasn’t the handwriting I couldn’t read – it was the Polish. Bubba, our grandmother, didn’t speak a word of English.

Antenna  filled the jars with cucumbers and boiling brine after Sis and I did our important work. By late afternoon, the cellar was filled with steam and the floor was dangerously slippery with water splashed from the sinks.

At the end of the day we proudly counted dozens of jars of pickles that would last our family until baskets of cucumbers reappeared at the market stand the next summer.

Patty pan pickles c egbert 012 Pickling a Pot of Patty Pan

Because of this early food memory, I make pickles that flood my kitchen with the golden glow of summer sun in the flat gray days of winter.

My methods have changed; now I work alone in my kitchen, content with making small batches. And rather than buying pickling cucumbers by the bushel, I make pickles with squash from my garden.

Here’s how I did it.

Patty Pan Squash Bread and Butter Pickles

I begin in the garden by gathering patty pan squashes at least two inches in diameter. I wash and then cut two pounds of squash into thin slices using a mandolin. A food processor or a knife will work as long as the tool is sharp. I add two medium, thinly sliced onions to the squash, cover the vegetables with cold water, stir in a quarter of a cup of kosher salt and let them soak for two hours. This short brining extracts extra water from the vegetables and helps them absorb the flavors of the pickling liquid.

Then I drain and rinse the brine from the vegetables before they are pickled.

For the pickling liquid I mix together three cups of vinegar, three-quarters of a cup of sugar, two teaspoons each of celery seeds, mustard seeds and mixed pickling spices, one teaspoon of ground turmeric, and boil the liquid for two minutes.

I steep the vegetables in the hot pickling liquid for two hours, simmer them for five minutes, then pack the pickles in hot jars that I seal by processing in boiling water for five minutes.

Quantities are flexible and this recipe can be adjusted to suit your harvest. Sugar can be increased and spices can be varied to suit your taste.

Any variety of summer squash or cucumber will work for this recipe. If the pickles are going to be eaten within a week or two, you need not vacuum seal the jars by boiling.  Pickles will be ready to eat in two days and keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. For complete instructions on canning consult The Joy of Cooking or Google “Home Canning”.

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Patty Pan Squash Bread and Butter Pickles Lists

  • 2 pounds patty pan squash
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1/4 c kosher salt
  • 3 c vinegar
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 t celery seeds, mustard seeds and mixed pickling spices
  • 1 t ground turmeric
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• 8 Responses to “Pickling a Pot of Patty Pan”

  • Eve says:

    oh how silly of me just reread the instructions and quite clearly cups and teaspoons, if you could let me know on the vinegar though it would be much appreciated. Thank you.

  • Carol says:

    Thank you for this great recipe for “Pickling a Pot of Patty Pan”. We always plant patty pans and this season gave us a great bounty. We were able to share with our seasonal neighbors and set aside some for ourselves to be creative. Mean while we went to Canada to get ducks to add to our larder, also. What squash we set aside will be pickled. What a great combination with our wild rice we gathered and our ducks. Yum

    Anne Radecki

  • Caroline says:

    I have a lot of patty pan squash this year…and…am trying many recipes to freeze. I have made Patty pan soup…Patty pan bread..and Patty pan lasagna. Now I”m interested in this Patti pan pickles. Oh, it sounds so yummy! Now…my question is…How do you mix the ingredients?…does it all go together in a pot to boil?
    Can you give me more detail? Thank so much..greatly appreciated! Caroline

  • wasabi prime says:

    I’ve never thought to pickle pattypans, but they would make for wonderful pickles. I’ll have to forward to a friend who’s growing them!

  • Lady Sazerac says:

    Good Morning..Carol…I love patty pan squash in all sorts of ways . And I like the idea of these petty pan pickles very much!

    You might want to try one day pickling what we call down “mirlitons”..if you have not already! When I lived in Boston…feeling very homesick for anything “New Orleans” looking one day…I walked down a grocery isle right straight into a huge display of..I could not believe…piles of mirlitoin….only they had a strange name on them…but I knew ..no matter what that sign said…these were my old friends…
    Chayote…that is what they were and are called everywhere else! They are wonderful…and since patty pan is a delicate flavor as is mirliton..the mirliton..I believe..is a bit sweeter ..by a tad..and may give off more liquid or juice… also by a bit…

    Thank you for letting me know about your blog!
    I will be back!

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