How to Freeze or Can Pumpkins and Winter Squash

How to Freeze or Can Pumpkins and Winter Squash by The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

How to Freeze or Can Pumpkins and Winter Squash

Knowing how to freeze or can pumpkins and winter squash comes in handy if you harvest a lot of them in autumn and don’t have a root cellar for winter storage. Even if you don’t grow your own pumpkins and winter squash, you may purchase extras in fall when they are plentiful at the farmers market or roadside stands. Bring them home and preserve for later!

Pie pumpkins and some varieties of winter squash don’t have a very long storage life, even under ideal conditions. So if you can’t store them properly or use them up in a month or two, you’ll need to can or freeze them.

Some varieties of squash will last longer under proper storage conditions, but if the skin starts to wrinkle, then use, freeze, or can them quickly!

Read How to Harvest and Store Pumpkins and Winter Squash for more information on proper harvest and winter storage.

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Marla Gates, Kristi Stone, Dianne Dixon Hadorn, Shawna Lance, Annie Lewellyn, Nancy Evans Wolff, Kathi Rodgers, Heidi Villegas, Victoria Moore, Valerie Johnstone, Candy Kage, Stephanie McManus Huston, Bethany Hayes, Lacey Hoyer, Julie Murphree, Robin Follette, Sheri Ann Wilder Richerson, Eddie AndJoy Racicot, Sheri Ann Richerson
Marina de Chioggia squash provides a lot of delicious meals!

For a full guide on how to pick your pumpkins and winter squash and store them without electricity, read this post on How to Harvest and Store Pumpkins and Winter Squash.

Step By Step Instructions to Freeze or Can Pumpkins & Winter Squash…

Whether you wish to freeze or can pumpkins and winter squash depends on how much freezer space and time you have.

You’ll also need a pressure canner if you wish to can these fall goodies. A water bath canner won’t suffice because the temperature won’t get hot enough. Keep reading for safe canning instructions.

How to Freeze Pumpkins and Winter Squash

Select pie pumpkins or winter squash that have a fine-grained flesh and good flavor for freezing. Use fruits that are fully ripened and sound. Some of the best varieties include:

Prepare Your Pumpkins and Squash for the Freezer

  • Thoroughly wash the exterior of fruit (pumpkins and squash are actually fruits, botanically speaking)
  • Carefully cut in half
  • Scoop out seeds (save for planting, roasting, or feeding to chickens)
  • Cut large fruit into smaller chunks
  • Boil or bake until soft and tender
  • Drain off excess liquid and cool quickly (place bowl in ice or cold water)
  • Scoop flesh from the rind
  • Mash, puree, or process with a food strainer
  • Pack into freezer-safe containers
  • Leave 1/2″ headspace in containers and seal
  • Label containers with contents and date
  • Freeze and use within 6 to 8 months
  • For longer storage: vacuum seal, freeze and use within 1 year

Learn How to Cook and Use Pie Pumpkins!

How to Freeze Pumpkins and Winter Squash

How to Use Your Frozen Pumpkin and Squash

Thaw your frozen pumpkin and winter squash in the refrigerator or microwave on defrost setting. You may also place frozen pumpkin or squash in a pan and heat gently to thaw and serve hot as a side vegetable. Top with some melted butter and a little brown sugar for extra flavor, if desired.

Use defrosted pumpkin or winter squash in any of your favorite recipes for pies, bread, soups or casseroles. If it is watery, drain some of the liquid and use it in vegetable broth or feed to your chickens.

pumpkin butter
Pumpkin butter made from real pumpkins!

Tip – Use pureed winter squash in place of canned pumpkin for pumpkin pie. No one will know that your pie was made with winter squash instead of pumpkin!

Try a batch of Pumpkin Cranberry Bread or Pumpkin Butter.

Use your frozen pumpkin and winter squash within 2 to 3 days after defrosting.

pumpkin cranberry bread
Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

How to Can Pumpkins and Winter Squash

Do not attempt to can pureed pumpkin or winter squash. Due to the thick consistency, it is not possible to know if all of the bacteria have been destroyed in the center of the jar.

You will need a pressure canner to safely can cubed pumpkin or winter squash.

The following directions will guide you through the process of canning pumpkins and winter squash safely.

Step By Step Instructions for Canning Pumpkins and Winter Squash

  • Thoroughly wash the exterior of the fruit
  • Cut fruit in half
  • Scoop out seeds (save for planting, roasting, or feeding to chickens)
  • Peel hard skin off of fruit
  • Cut flesh into 1″ cubes
  • Boil cubes for 2 minutes
  • Hot pack canning jars with cubes and cooking water, do not mash cubes
  • Leave 1″ of headspace
  • Follow all pressure canner instructions!
  • Process jars in weighted gauge pressure canner at 15 psi (over 1,000 ft elevation) or 10 psi (under 1,000 ft elevation)
  • Once proper pressure is attained, process for 55 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts
  • Do not open pressure canner until the pressure has returned to normal
  • After jars cool, check lids to be sure they sealed properly (use any unsealed jars right away)
  • Wash jars and screw tops, allow jars to dry thoroughly
  • Store canned goods in a cool, dry place
  • Use home canned pumpkin and squash within 1 – 2 years for best results.
Mash your canned squash, heat, serve as a side dish for a turkey dinner!

How to Use Canned Pumpkin and Winter Squash

For soups with a thinner consistency, you may use the entire jar of pumpkin or squash, including liquid. You may process the contents of jar in a blender until smooth.

To use in pie filling, thick soups, or for side dishes, drain liquid and use cubes. (Use the liquid as vegetable broth, in liquid for cooking rice, or feed to pigs.) Mash or puree chunks for desired consistency. Use in recipes as you would normally use canned pumpkin or squash puree.

Use canned pumpkin and winter squash within 2 to 3 days after opening.

Check out this 100% Date Sweetened Winter Squash Pie with Maple Whipped Cream Recipe! from Butter for All 🙂

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How to Freeze or Can Pumpkins and Winter Squash by The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Shared on The Homestead Hop, Farm Fresh Tuesdays, You’re the Star, Simple Homestead Hop, Family Homesteading and Off-Grid Hop

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Lisa Lombardo

Freelance Writer at Tohoca, LLC
Lisa writes in-depth articles about gardening and homesteading topics. She grew up on a farm and has continued learning about horticulture, animal husbandry, and home food preservation ever since. She has earned an Associate of Applied Science in Horticulture and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She is a self proclaimed gardening freak and crazy chicken lady.

In addition to writing for her own websites, Lisa has contributed articles to The Prepper Project and Homestead.org.

The author lives outside of Chicago with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a variety of poultry.
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