As the end of the farmer’s market season draws near, booths and CSA boxes are packed with heaps of pumpkins and winter squash. These vegetables are some of the easiest foods to buy in season and preserve for the winter, allowing you to continue to eat locally grown produce throughout the winter.
Here are some tips for storing your pumpkins and winter squash:
Cellaring: To cellar the squash, harvest before the first hard frost, leaving at least 4 inches of stem attached. Store at room temperature for 2 weeks to allow the skins to toughen. To prevent mold growth during storage, wipe with a mild solution of bleach, about 1 tsp per cup water. After about 2 weeks, transfer to a cool (about 55F), dry location. (If the location is slightly damp, store squash on a high shelf rather than on the floor.) Pumpkins and squash will last up to 6 months when stored in these conditions and can be used the same way a fresh vegetable would.
Freezing raw squash: Wash outer skin and peel skin. Cut open, remove seeds, and cut squash into chunks. Large chunks can later be roasted or added to soups, while smaller dice can be added to risotto or soups. Spread squash out on a baking sheet and freeze for 4 hours. When frozen solid, transfer to a plastic zipper-close bag. Frozen pumpkin should be used within about 3 months of freezing.
Freezing cooked squash: Wash outside skin, cut, and remove seeds. Put about 1 inch of water in the bottom of a baking dish, then add the squash. Bake at 350F for 30-50 minutes, until the squash is soft. When cool, remove the meat from skins and mash the squash. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, and use a measuring cup to form one-cup lumps of squash on the baking sheet. When frozen, transfer the squash to a plastic zipper-close bag. To use in a specific recipe, measure the proper amount of squash into a small a plastic zipper-close bag and freeze.
Here is my favorite soup Instant Pot recipe for butternut squash.
Thai Butternut Squash Soup
1 large butternut squash
2 tablespoons red curry paste
4 cups chicken stock
1 can (14 ounces) full fat coconut milk
3 tablespoons fish sauce
Cut butternut squash in half. Remove seeds. Place squash in pressure cooker and add 1 cup of water. Close lid. Set to Manual for 12 minutes.
Allow pressure to release naturally. When cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and set aside.
Set pressure cooker to Saute. Cook the curry past for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and squash. Stir. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.
Add the coconut milk and fish sauce. Cook until hot, about 3 minutes.
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