- When possible, preserve fresh, locally-grown winter squash for the best quality and nutritional value.
- Know when fresh winter squash is available in your state with this seasonal food guide.
- Select firm, mature pumpkins and winter squash (Acorn, Banana, Buttercup, Butternut, Hubbard, Spaghetti). Do not use pumpkins or winter squash that show signs of decay or mold.
- Use 1 ½ - 3 lbs of pumpkin per quart container
- Use 3 lbs of winter squash per quart container
- Ice (approx. 1 pound/pound vegetables)
- Large cooking pot with lid
- Cutting board
- Vegetable masher
- Large container or tub for ice water
- Use clean packing containers and materials that are moisture and vapor-proof/resistant:
- Rigid containers (glass jars and hard plastic containers) are especially good for freezing foods with liquid. Covers for rigid containers should fit tightly.
- Square or rectangular, straight-sided rigid plastic containers make the best use of freezer space.
- Wide-mouth, dual-purpose glass jars made for canning and freezing are tempered to withstand extremes in temperature and allow for easier removal of partially-thawed foods.
- Narrow-mouth dual-purpose glass jars can also be used but require greater headspace (to avoid expansion breakage at the shoulder) and foods must be completely thawed before removal.
- Flexible bags or wrappings (plastic freezer bags, freezer paper or wrap, and heavyweight aluminum foil) are best for freezing food products with little or no liquid.
- Vacuum packaging removes more oxygen than other freezing methods (Refer to manufacturer's instructions.)
3. Prepare Equipment
- Before use, wash re-usable containers in hot soapy water and rinse well. Dry.
4. Prepare Vegetables
- Thoroughly wash pumpkin or winter squash.
- Cut into smaller sections and remove seeds.
- Cook sections until soft (fork-tender) in boiling water, steam, microwave, pressure cooker or 350-400°F oven (cut side down).
- Remove cooked squash from rind and mash. (Spaghetti squash does NOT need to be mashed.)
- Cool thoroughly by placing container with mashed pumpkin or squash in tub of iced water and stirring occasionally to speed cooling process.
- Pack cooled squash tightly into containers, bags or wrap.
- If using rigid containers, leave 1/2 inch headspace.
- If using flexible bags or wrap, remove as much air as possible.
- Make sure sealing edges are free of moisture or food.
- Label with the name of food, date, and type of pack.
- Freeze as quickly as possible to 0°F or below.
- For quickest freezing, place containers in single layers in freezer.
- Most frozen vegetables will maintain high quality for 12-18 months at 0°F or below.