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Fermented Squash Or Pumpkin

Fermented squash finished in oil as a condiment

Fermented squash or pumpkin is absolutely delicious. This savory pickle can be made with chili and garlic, fresh herbs, or za’atar for flavor-packed addition to your meals.

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups of water, chlorine-free (as needed)
  • 1 Tbsp non-iodized salt
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (or other flavors, optional)
  • 1 medium-sized pumpkin or winter squash
  • Olive oil (for finishing, optional)

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the salt in 1 cup of water in a 1 quart (1 L) glass jar for fermenting. Place the garlic and other flavors in the bottom of the jar.
  2. This recipe works with around 1/2 a butternut squash, or 1/4 of a sugar pumpkin. Feel free to scale up if you have a large pumpkin. Just make sure to maintain the salt-to-jar size ratio. E.g. if you fill a 2-quart jar, use 2 Tbsp of salt.
  3. Peel the squash. Slice it in half and remove the seeds, along with the stringy interior bits.
  4. Thinly slice into 1/4-inch (1/2 cm) slices. Make the slices about the right size to pack into your jar. I find dividing the squash into 1/6th wedges before slicing to be about right. But if you have a particularly large squash, make the slices smaller.
  5. Pack the squash in tightly so there is not much extra space available. Pour over more water, as needed. Use a weight to keep everything submerged below the brine.
  6. If you plan on fermenting for more than 5 days, be sure to use a jar with a fermentation-specific lid to prevent contamination. Fido jars or airlocks are two options.

Finishing With Oil

  1. The squash is delicious straight from the brine. However, if you wish to finish it in oil, I recommend waiting until you’re ready to open the jar. Properly fermented squash should last a long time in a cool, dark location. However, once you pack it in oil, it will need to be stored in the fridge and eaten within 4 weeks.
  2. Remove the squash from the brine and pack it into a clean jar. It’s fine if a bit of brine ends up in the jar. There’s no need to dry or rinse the squash.
  3. Pour the oil over top. You will need about 1/4 cup of oil for every cup of squash. So if you pack it into a 2-cup jar, you will need 1/2 cup of oil. I often fill a 2-cup jar, then when we’ve finished eating the squash, I pack another batch of fermented squash into the jar. The oil can be reused 2 or 3 times.
  4. Feel free to add any dried herbs or spices that you want for flavor. I love za’atar, however, choose a salt-free variety as the squash is salty enough. 
  5. Store in the fridge and enjoy within 4 weeks.

Notes

  • Cinnamon, ginger, and pumpkin spice are traditional for squash. If that’s your jam, then go for it! However, I like Mediterranean flavors for this savory ferment. Feel free to add sprigs of rosemary, thyme, or oregano.
  • Certain flavors are best added when transferring the fermented pumpkin into the oil. For example, Zata’ar is a great flavor addition, however, dried spices will float, making it a risk of contamination from mold.
  • I LOVE the addition of chili flakes. However, my kids aren’t into spicy ferments, so I always pack two jars, one for them and one for me!
  • If this is your first time fermenting, and you want to stash the jar for longer than a week, I recommend reading up on How To Ferment Vegetables first.

Keywords: fall, winter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, acorn squash, kabocha, butternut,