How to Freeze or Can Pumpkins & Winter Squash

How to Freeze or Can Pumpkins and Winter Squash

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. 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 two to three months, you’ll want to can or freeze them. Some varieties of squash will last longer under proper storage conditions, but if the skin starts to wrinkle, it’s best to use them up or prepare them for freezing and canning to keep them.

How to Freeze or Can Pumpkins and Winter Squash

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

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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!

Step By Step Instructions for Freezing Pumpkins & Winter Squash

Select pie pumpkins or winter squash that have a 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 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 rind
  • Mash thoroughly
  • Puree, if desired
  • Pack into freezer safe containers
  • Leave 1/2″ headspace in containers, 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
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, breads, soups or casseroles.

pumpkin butter
Pumpkin butter made from real pumpkins!

Tips – 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 pathogens have been destroyed in the center of the jar. 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 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 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 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 entire jar of pumpkin or squash, including liquid, if desired.

To use in pie filling, thick soups, or for side dishes, drain liquid and use cubes. (Use 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 use canned pumpkin or squash puree.

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

This post is part of the Self Reliance Challenge shared by a group of bloggers…you can find them here!

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Shared on The Homestead Hop


5 comments on “How to Freeze or Can Pumpkins & Winter Squash

  1. Pingback: Veggies from My 'Root Cellar' & Self Reliance - The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

  2. farmgal

    I tend to keep them as long as possible in the cold cellar but once the butternut has cured and sweetened, I will can them up, I tend to freeze the pumpkin more as I find it can get more of a watery texture from the canning then the firmer fleshed ones can.. but it depends on the kind.. nice review đŸ™‚

    1. Homesteader Post author

      You’re right about the pumpkin, Farm Gal…I prefer to freeze that too. Butternut is one of my favorites. đŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by1

  3. Lacey

    Great article! I’ve got a 30 gallon tote filled with butternut and spaghetti squash out in my “cold room” and I’m thinking about preserving the butternuts before they go bad. Thank you so much for sharing this on the Homestead Blog Hop!

  4. Homesteader Post author

    Thank you, Lacey! I love butternuts and ours are all used up now. I still have several of the Marina Di Chioggia type, which taste quite a bit like butternut. I made a lasagna with one for dinner tonight…it was excellent!


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