How to Preserve Winter Squash

comments (2) December 9th, 2012

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WesternGardener Jodi Torpey, contributor
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An Australian Blue heirloom squash was an unusual choice for fall decorating.
Winter squash, with its bright orange flesh, is an excellent source of beta-carotene.
Cubes of winter squash can be used as the base for soups, stews and many other recipes.
An Australian Blue heirloom squash was an unusual choice for fall decorating.Click To Enlarge

An 'Australian Blue' heirloom squash was an unusual choice for fall decorating.

Photo: John Pendleton

Instead of choosing an ordinary orange pumpkin for fall decorating, I decided to use an unusual heirloom winter squash. This 'Australian Blue' had a nice round shape with deep ridges and the skin had a lovely mottled pattern. It was the centerpiece of my indoor fall display and looked especially attractive nestled between the foliage and small amber lights.

But once Thanksgiving was over, it was time to put this 20-pound squash to work. It took a bit of effort and extra attention to safety, but it was worth it. Here's what I did to preserve the beautiful bright orange flesh for many winter meals of soup, stews and side dishes. Be sure to take care not to cut or injure yourself in the process.

This method works for smaller winter squash, too.

  1. Wash and thoroughly dry the winter squash.
  2. Cut a large wedge out of one side with a good-sized carving knife.
  3. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. (Save seeds for planting next season, roasting like pumpkin seeds or sharing with the squirrels in your backyard.)
  4. Continue cutting wedges from the squash using the deep ridges as a guide.
  5. Set aside some of the wedges to bake and serve as a side dish.
  6. Peel the remaining wedges with a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife.
  7. Slice the wedges into a manageable size and then cut each wedge into cubes.
  8. Arrange the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet; place in freezer for several hours or overnight.
  9. Remove frozen cubes from the baking sheet, place in containers or plastic freezer bags and stack in the freezer.

When you're ready to use the frozen squash cubes for cooking, take what you need from the container (use as is or thaw first) and follow the recipe.

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Comments (2)

WesternGardener writes: Thanks for the tip to partially cook the squash before freezing--sounds like a good idea to me.

I've used the squash right from the freezer without thawing first and that seems to work well for soups and purees.
Posted: 12:33 pm on December 21st
user-1070621 writes: My wife tried this process a couple of years ago. It didn't work because the squash turned to mush after thawing. What works for her now is to partially cook the squares before freezing. Now you wouldn't know it didn't come straight from the garden, mmmm good.
Posted: 11:31 am on December 19th
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