When you’re using squash for a recipe, there are always some unused leftovers. Luckily, you don’t have to throw them away. One of the most popular ways of preserving squash is by canning it, but there’s another option, that’s why in this post we’ll teach you how to freeze squash.
Freezing is a very easy way to extend the shelf life of your squash if you don’t have the time or the supplies to can it. However, you can’t just toss it whole into your freezer and hope for the best.
To freeze squash, you have to prepare it, flash-freeze it, and then store it. Moreover, if you want to freeze it precooked or puréed, you’ll have to follow some extra steps.
In this piece, we’re going to teach you three different methods and give you some useful tips for how to freeze squash. Let’s get started!
How to Freeze Butternut Squash
Butternut squash, also known as winter squash, is a delicious and versatile vegetable that can be stored for months without going bad. It’s also good in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and more nutrients. If you want to store it long-term and enjoy it throughout the whole year, one of the best options is to freeze it.
- Chef’s knife
- Sheet tray
- Parchment paper
- Freezer-safe container or bag
- Baking dish
- Oven mitts or dish towel
- Permanent marker
- Wash the squash thoroughly with cool water and gently scrub away any dirt.
- Chop the vegetable in half and cut off both ends.
- Use a sharp knife to peel the squash. While you can technically freeze the squash with the skin, it’ll be incredibly hard to remove after freezing and thawing.
- Cut the butternut squash into cubes of the size you find most convenient to store in your freezer, and remove the seeds and pulp. The seeds can be discarded, but we recommend saving them and roasting like you would pumpkin seeds to make a tasty and healthy snack.
Flash-freezing involves freezing your butternut squash cubes flat, and separated from other pieces, to keep them from clumping together into a big mass during freezing. It’s also very useful when it comes to thawing because you can thaw just the amount you’re going to need for your recipe.
- Lay out your butternut squash in a single layer on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. You should make sure that none of the cubes are touching each other, so use multiple trays if needed, or place a piece of parchment paper on top of the first layer and stack a second one on top.
- Place the sheet tray in your freezer for about 2 to 3 hours until they are frozen solid. Bear in mind that if you’ve stacked several layers of squash cubes, they’ll take longer to freeze.
- Once the squash is frozen solid, transfer it to a silicone or plastic freezer bag or container. Don’t use glass containers because they’re more likely to shatter in the freezer. Make sure to leave ½-inch (1.25-cm) empty headspace at the top of the container to leave room for the squash to expand as it freezes.
- Squeeze the air out of the bag as much as possible to reduce the formation of ice crystals and avoid freezer burn. You can also use a straw to remove it.
- Label the bags or containers by indicating the date and place them in the back of your freezer.
You can store frozen raw butternut squash for 6 to 12 months for optimal taste and quality, or until it starts to show signs of decay or freezer burn.
Freezing Butternut Squash Cooked
The most convenient way to store butternut squash is by cooking it before freezing it because it’s going to be ready to be used in pies, soups, and other recipes
The preparation for freezing cooked butternut squash is simpler than other methods because you don’t have to peel it just yet.
- Wash the squash thoroughly, cut it in half, and cut off both ends.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the vegetable in half lengthwise.
- Remove the seeds and stringy pulp with a spoon.
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F (204 °C).
- Place the halved squash in a baking dish with deep sides. It should be at least twice the size of the squash halves. If you don’t have one that’s big enough, you’re going two need two separate dishes.
- Add approximately ½ inch (1.25 cm) of water to the dish.
- Bake at 400 °F (204 °C) for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of your squash, until it’s soft enough to be fork tender.
- Carefully remove the dish from the oven and let the squash cool for about 40 minutes, until you can touch it without burning your fingers.
- Use your fingers or a large spoon to separate the skin from the flesh.
- Cut the butternut squash into cubes of the size you desire.
- Place the cooked cubes on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper, arranging them in a single layer and making sure that none of the cubes are touching each other.
- Place the sheet tray in your freezer for about 1 to 2 hours until they are frozen solid.
- Once the squash is frozen solid, transfer it to a freezer-safe plastic container.
- Label the container indicating the date and place it back in your freezer.
Just like raw frozen butternut squash, precooked squash can be stored for 6 to 12 months in the freezer. However, they’re easier to use straight from the freezer than raw squash cubes are.
The best method for freezing butternut squash purée by portioning it, and it’s actually a very simple process:
- Follow your favorite recipe to make the purée, and let it cool.
- Then, spoon it into an ice cube tray.
- Wrap the tray in plastic wrap and freeze for 1 to 2 hours.
- Once the cubes are frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer-safe plastic container or bag.
And that’s it! Whenever you need some purée, you can simply grab the cubes you need and melt them over low heat.
How to Freeze Summer and Yellow Squash
Yellow squash is one of the most popular summer squash that you can find at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, and it’s possible to freeze it too! While the process is not exactly the same as with butternut squash, it’s just as easy.
- Wash and scrub the squash thoroughly to remove any dirt.
- Chop off both ends and cut the vegetable into slices that are about ¼ inch (0.25 cm) thick.
- Fill two large pots with water. Bring one of them to a boil, and add some ice cubes to the other.
- Place the squash into the pot and blanch for approximately 3 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the squash to the pot of ice water to quickly stop the cooking process.
- Drain any excess water and use a kitchen towel to pat the slices dry.
- Flash-freeze the yellow squash slices and place them into a freezer-safe plastic container or bag for long-term storage.
If you have at least 45 minutes to prepare your squash, then we definitely encourage you to freeze it and store it for later. There are three methods you can choose from, depending on how much time you have and what you’re going to use your squash for later on.
By following our step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to simply reach into the freezer and cook any recipe that calls for fresh squash whenever you want!