Preserving squash for the winter

I figure that until I get a good set of posts up, I can probably post three times a week. The third post each week will concern preserving the bounty of your garden or farmers market. This past summer I bought a CSA subscription (Community Supported Agriculture) so every week I would return home with a literal box of produce, and every week I had squash. Patty pan, zucchini, and crookneck flooded my kitchen earlier in the summer. Acorn and butternut are currently filling my shelves.

I tried to use up all of my summer squash but you can only eat so much, especially when you’re traumatized by having it forced down your throat as a child. Really, my mother used to pick the BIGGEST yellow squashes, slice them thick, steam them until their middles were all goopy and slimy, and put them in a disposable aluminum baking dish filled with kielbasa. Then she would fill the dish with BBQ sauce and put it in the oven until it was warm all the way through. I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I ate my plateful (including the sauce), which as you can imagine only gets more disgusting as it gets cold. Blech! And this continued through High School.

So after taking a many-year hiatus from Summer Squash I’ve finally been able to start eating it again, but in limited quantities, and in ways that involve the oven. As i have a paltry single window unit for my bitty house, I loath to run the oven in the summer. Through this winter, though, I have many plans for my stowed away squash. If you want to keep your summer and winter squash through the winter, preparing it to freeze is super duper easy.

Cubes of Summer and Winter Squash

Start a large pot of salted water boiling and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Peel any squash with tough skins (like Butternut) and chop all squash up into approximately 1 inch cubes. When water reaches a boil, toss in squash, allow to boil for about 2 minutes. Remove from boiling water and shock squash cubes in cold water. Once cool, place squash cubes in freezer bags and place in freezer.

note: I tend to boil one type of squash at a time so I can keep them separate in the freezer bags in case I only want a particular type later on.

Roasted Winter Squash

Winter squash will keep in a cool, dry location for most of the winter. But my pile of winter squash was just too unwieldy, so I needed to take care of it.

Preheat oven to 375F. Cut winter squashes in half and arrange cut side down in a deep baking or roasting pan. Fill pan with about a 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch of water. Place baking pan in middle of the oven and let bake about 30-50 minutes (less time for smaller, thinner squash and more time for larger, thicker ones). Pull out of oven and let cool until comfortable to handle. Using a spoon, scoop out the soft flesh of the squashes and store in freezer containers. When room temperature, stack the bags flat in the freezer. I separate the squashes based on type.

The roasted squash can be thawed by leaving on the counter for a few hours. Then it can be added to soups, casseroles, and even macaroni and cheese.

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