Tips for Fermenting Pumpkins and other Winter Squash

You can make delicious fermented condiments with winter squash. You might ask why ferment winter squash? It keeps so well. The main reason is it is delicious and sometimes, if you’ve had an abundant harvest, you are sick of eating squash soup.

Way back, fermenting winter squash was one of our first forays moving beyond cabbage and basic kraut. Our neighbors grew beautiful blue Hubbard squash for seed. The organically grown seeds were the crop and the thick wall of rich flesh that surrounded the seed was the waste. We had our small farm-to-kraut company at the time and didn’t want to see all that organic food go to waste. So, we took buckets and buckets of cracked squash home and began to trial methods and flavors to ferment it.

We learned immediately placing cubes in a salt water brine and pickling them was not the way to go, which didn’t keep us from fermenting the whole jack-o-lantern this year. (As an aside here is a fun history of the pumpkin's roll in history and fairy tales. Including a mention of the pilgrims fermenting this squash into a pumpkin libation.)

While it might be too late for you to ferment your own jack-o-lantern this year, it is not too late in the season to ferment some winter squash.

Tips for making your own fermented squash recipe:

  •    For best results, choose winter meaty varieties of squash with the drier sweeter flesh—think Kobucha, Hubbard, Butternut. The lighter yellow, wetter flesh like pie/jack-o-lantern pumpkins and Delicata work but will leave you with a softer, wetter ferment.
  •    You can mix shredded squash with cabbage for a squash kraut.
  •    You can slice squash in thin slices and combine with other thinly sliced veggies.
  •    Dry brine for best results. This means using the salt that you add to the thinly-sliced or grated vegetable to get the brine, not adding brine made with salt and water. We like to use a 1.5%–2% salt ratio by vegetable weight for fermenting squash. This means for 3 – 3 ½ pounds of squash you will use a tablespoon of fine salt. In warmer climates, you may even have to boost up that ratio a little bit more. *Remember salt helps control the ferment, it helps keep the crisp and slows down the fermentation in warm weather.
  •    Use smoky, warm, and earthy spices—chipotle, turmeric, ginger—to compliment your creation.

Here’s a simple chutney to get your creative ideas flowing. If you make something wonderful we love to hear about it. Share on the comments or post on Instagram and tag us @ferment.works.

Squash Chutney

Makes a quart

4 cups shredded winter squash

1–2 tablespoons salt

½ cup raisins

2 cloves garlic, grated

1 tablespoon sweet curry powder

½ cup shredded carrot (optional)

Process in the usual way taking care to make sure the squash is submerged. Allow to ferment for one to three weeks. It is done when you smell that wonderful pickle acidity. You can store refrigerated for 6–8 months—if you don’t eat it first.

 

 

 

Fermenting pumpkins and other winter squash