As the end of the farmer’s market season draws near,
booths and CSA boxes are packed with heaps of pumpkins and winter squash. These vegetables are some of the
easiest foods to buy in season and preserve for the winter, allowing you to continue to eat locally grown produce throughout the winter. Here are some tips for storing your pumpkins and winter squash:
This is the simplest method of preservation and a great way to handle a large number of squashes at once. To cellar the squash, harvest before the first hard frost, leaving at least 4 inches of stem attached. Store the squash at room temperature for 2 weeks to allow the skins to toughen. To prevent mold growth during storage, wipe with a mild solution of bleach, about 1 tsp per cup water. After about 2 weeks, transfer to a cool (about 55F), dry location, such an attached garage, three-season porch, or unfinished basement. If the location is slightly damp, store squash on a high shelf rather than on the floor. Pumpkins and squash will last up to 6 months when stored in these conditions and can be used the same way a fresh vegetable would.
Freezing raw squash: Wash outer skin and peel skin using either a really strong vegetable peeler or a paring knife. Cut open, remove seeds, and cut squash into chunks. Large chunks can later be roasted or added to soups, while smaller dice can be added to risotto, rice or quinoa pilaf, or soups. Spread squash out on a baking sheet and freeze for 4 hours. When frozen solid, transfer to a plastic zipper-close bag. Frozen pumpkin should be used within about 3 months of freezing.
Freezing cooked squash:
Wash outside skin, cut, and remove seeds. Put about 1 inch of water in the bottom of a baking dish, then add the squash. Bake at 350F for 30-50 minutes, until the squash is soft. When cool, remove the meat from skins and mash the squash. At this point, squash can be frozen in several forms depending on its intended uses.
Add the mashed squash to ice cube trays, freeze for two hours, then remove frozen squash cubes to a plastic zipper-close bag.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, and use a
measuring cup to form one-cup lumps of squash on the baking sheet. When frozen, transfer the squash to a a plastic zipper-close bag.
To use in a specific recipe, measure the proper amount of
squash into a small a plastic zipper-close bag and freeze.
Send us some of your favorite recipes and tricks to preserving these amazing flavors of Fall!