Now that all of the summer squash is either safely tucked into my freezer or the compost pile, it’s time to tackle the winter squash.
All squashes are cucurbits and, though there are four species of squash that encompass what we have in our gardens and markets, they are usually simply divided into summer squash, which includes yellow crookneck, green zucchini and patty-pan and winter squash which includes pumpkin, acorn, butternut and hubbard.
The main difference is:
Summer squash is harvested while still immature and has a tender skin and seeds that are edible as part of the vegetable.
Winter squash is harvested when fully mature and has a hard skin that is normally not eaten and seeds that must be further processed before edible.
For long-term storage winter squashes should be left on the
vine as long as possible but picked before the first frost. Leave at least an inch of stem on the squash (do no use it as a handle) and, if possible, allow it to ‘cure’ in the sun for a few days. Do not wash. Store in a cool, dry place far enough apart to allow air to circulate. Depending on variety and storage it will keep from 2 to 6 months.
Or you can cook it and freeze it.
To freeze pumpkin:
To do this you need pumpkins that have been grown for food and cooking; not carving for Halloween. There is a big difference. The pumpkin for eating will probably not be very pretty and will be very thick fleshed. It may be known in the markets simply as winter squash.
Wash the pumpkin and cut it into large pieces. Remove seeds and stringy bits. Put skin side down in large baking dish (I use 9 X 13 cake pan). Cover with foil and bake in 400F (200C) oven for 90 minutes. Remove and test with fork. It should be very done. With a nice, ripe pumpkin there will be about an inch of liquid in the pan – I haven’t thought of a use for it yet so I toss it out. When pumpkin is cool enough to handle scrape the flesh into a large strainer over a large bowl. Allow to drain for at least 4 hours or until the next day (refrigerate overnight). Measure into freezer bags – 1 1/4 cups for 1 cup of usable pumpkin, 2 1/3 cups for 2 cups of usable pumpkin (you will lose more liquid upon thawing) and freeze. Keeps for 1 year. I can’t tell you what your pumpkin will yield, but my pumpkins each require 4 baking pans full and yield 12 – 15 cups of usable pumpkin.
To roast for eating now: Wash the pumpkin and cut it into serving size pieces. Remove seeds and stringy bits. Put skin side down in large baking dish (I use 9 X 13 cake pan). Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and bake, uncovered, in 400F (200C) oven for 45 – 60 minutes. Serve with butter, salt and pepper.
What to do with all the frozen pumpkin?
Make pie, of course.
Or this Pumpkin Gratin
Or maybe some Pumpkin Bread
Shown with Cranberry Bread
Freezing butternut squash is similar but simpler: Peel it using a vegetable peeler, cut it into chunks and roast it, covered for 45 minutes. It doesn’t contain as much water as pumpkin so only needs to be drained for a short time. Put it into bags and freeze.
As to the other winter squashes…. I haven’t done it myself, but other sites say they freeze just fine – same method.
What to do with frozen butternut squash?
Make this soup
Or this one
Or this easy (but fancy) Butternut Squash Timbale with Apple Chestnut Sauce
12oz (350gr) butternut squash 2 – 3 cups small chunks
1 tbs soy sauce or more Teriyaki if you have it
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame or walnut oil
Slice butternut squash, (.5″, 1.25cm) then cut into bite-size pieces. Roughly chop onion. Heat oils and soy sauce in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add squash, onions and sauté 15 minutes, until squash and onions are nicely browned. Serve.