How to make pickled squash and other holiday edible gifts

pickled butternut squash
pickled butternut squash

I know it might seem a bit odd to publish a pickle recipe at a time of the year when everyone else is busy with cookies and panettone. But – thanks to generous friends – I have been so pumpkin and squash-rich recently, that I had to develop new ideas.
After making squash soup, pumpkin lasagna and sweet and sour pumpkin, I was still left with a half butternut squash which was so beautiful I had no heart to blend it into another sauce. Besides, it’s time to start making some holiday gifts and this one is not only a little different, but deliciously aromatic and as pretty as a pickle can be thanks to its sunny looks.

  • 1 kg (2 lb) butternut squash, diced into 1 cm (1/2 inch) cubes
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom pods
  • 1.5 cm (2/3 inch) fresh ginger sliced thinly
  • 250 ml (1 cup) white wine vinegar
  • 450 g (2 cups) sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon

For this recipe you need a firm fleshed, unblemished squash or pumpkin. Soft squashes will fall apart while cooking making the pickle quite unpresentable. In a shallow large pan bring to the boil all ingredients except squash and lemon juice. Once the sugar is dissolved, lower heat, add cubed squash and simmer for 40 min or until squash is tender but still firm. The squash should gently float in the liquid, if it gets too low add some water.
When ready, add the lemon juice, and pack the squash cubes into sterilized jam jars, cover withe the hot syrup and seal. Wait at least for 4 weeks before using.
Makes 5-6 250 ml lt (1/2 pint)  jars. The pickle pairs beautifully with aged cheese, sausages and anything smoked.
PS: I find that preserves make excellent food gifts as they can be enjoyed after the holidays when the party is finished. By then, we all want a little comfort to get through the harsh part of the winter. Here are a few more ideas:

And if you can’t live without cookies the wine and olive oil ciambelline will add an Italian touch to the festivities.

Enjoy! Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and above all peace and love to all of you, your family and friends.

happy holidays from Umbria!
happy holidays from Umbria!


  1. I have never thought about pickling pumpkin. what a great idea. Your last photo looks so beautiful: one day I will make it to Italy for winter and a touch of snow in Umbria. Best wishes, F

  2. Hi Francesca! to be honest I did not even know it was possible to pickle pumpkin. I have adapted my watermelon rind recipe and it has worked very well because I had a firm and very flavorful squash. The results were quite delicious when just cooked so I expect it will improve with time. It also keeps the color even after a month!

  3. I agree with Francesca. I never thought it’s possible to make a pickled squash. But hey, it’s here. Thanks for sharing your secret recipe. It’s a great addition for my “pickled” collection. Anyway, if done correctly, approximately how many weeks/months can the pickled squash lasts?

    • Angie, thank you for your comment! This the first year I make pickle squash but I have made watermelon rind pickle for many years using the same recipe.The watermelon pickle lasts for many months (I’d say a year) without alteration of color,flavor or shape. I think you could count on the same duration for the squash as long as you use a firm variety.

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