If you’re a big fan of butternut squash, you probably know that it has a short season of availability in the supermarket—usually from September to the end of November. That won’t be a problem because you can easily freeze prepared butternut squash and use it in your favorite recipes year-round. Freezing butternut squash is a quick and easy way to have this superfood on hand at all times, and the best part is that frozen butternut squash retains all of its valuable nutrients.
Butternut squash is a superfood. It’s chock full of heart-healthy vitamins and minerals. A one-cup serving contains a whopping 163 percent of the daily recommended amount for Vitamin A. High in fiber and low in fat, butternut squash is loaded with potassium, B6 vitamins and anti-oxidants. With health benefits like this, adding this delicious vegetable to your diet should be a no-brainer.
Image used under Creative Commons from Forest and Kim Starr
How to Prepare Butternut Squash for Freezing
Blanching is a quick-boil process that reduces the enzymatic action in fruits and vegetables. It helps the vegetable retain its flavor, texture and nutrients while frozen.
With the blanching method, you can add the frozen squash cubes directly into boiling water for recipes stews and casseroles. No additional thawing or cooking is needed.
- Thoroughly wash the squash with a scrub brush under cold running water to remove any dirt and pesticide residue.
- Cut off the very top of the squash and then cut it in half lengthwise.
- Use a spoon to scrape out the fibrous pulp and seeds.
- Use a Y-shaped vegetable peeler to peel the skin off the squash.
- Cut the squash into uniform-size chunks (about 1 ½” cubes).
- Place the chunks into a large pot of boiling water for about three minutes to blanch.
- Drain the squash cubes in a colander.
- With the squash cubes still in the colander, dip the colander into a pot of ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Put the cubes into labeled plastic containers or baggies and place into the freezer. The squash will be good for one year.
Microwave Method for Puree
Microwaving butternut squash to make into puree is a great choice if you’re planning to use it in soups, as a side dish, or in muffins or pies. When ready to use in your favorite recipe, thaw it by placing it in the refrigerator overnight, or run cold water over the container until thawed.
- Slice the squash in half lengthwise and then again crosswise to make four large quarters.
- Scoop out the fibrous pulp and seeds.
- In a large microwave-safe dish, place the squash cubes with the flesh side facing down. Add about two inches of water to the pan and cover with plastic wrap. If you don’t have a big enough pan (or microwave) to accommodate all of the pieces, you might need to cook the squash in batches.
- Microwave the squash for about 15 minutes on the highest setting. After that time, check to see if it’s done by poking it with a fork. If it’s soft, it’s ready. If not, continue to microwave in intervals of three minutes until done. This can take up to 30 minutes total.
- Let the squash cool until you can safely handle the pieces and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl.
- Puree the squash with an electric hand mixer until it reaches a smooth consistency. You can also use a regular blender or fork, but the hand mixer is easier.
- Transfer the puree into freezer-safe labeled containers or plastics baggies. Make sure to leave about an inch of room at the top of the container to allow for expansion.The puree will keep in the freezer for one year.