Sometimes I feel like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory when I’m knee-deep in harvest season and just can’t keep up with using all of my delicious veggies. Even after I gift them to family and neighbors I’m always looking for creative ways to preserve vegetables once harvested. Enter butternut squash!
Butternut squash is an ultimate champ when it comes to freezing for later use because you really can’t get it wrong. For me the choice depends on how much prep time I have vs. how much time I want to spend cooking the butternut squash soup or stew. Here is the best way to freeze butternut squash for soups and stews with slight variations you can make.
Prep the butternut squash
Peel the squash and halve it lengthwise with a knife. With a spoon, scoop out seeds and pulp. Cut the butternut squash into 1-2 inch cubes.
The Freeze-it-Raw Method
This is the easiest method up-front. Once cut into cubes, spread the butternut squash onto a baking sheet so the pieces aren’t touching each other and put them in the freezer for about an hour or until frozen. Once frozen, gather the pieces into a labeled storage bag or container and toss back into the freezer. You can roast or microwave these pieces directly from the freezer when you’re ready to make a soup or stew.
The Blanch-and-Freeze Method
This method is good for recipes where you want to retain the texture of the cubed-up butternut squash. Take your cubed squash and put it into boiling water for three-to-five minutes. Immediately dunk pieces into ice cold water, drain well, and freeze using the same method as above.
I’ll be honest, this method is the clunkiest with added time upfront for what might not be the biggest pay-off, but there is science to support that says by blanching first, you destroy enzymes that will mess with the nutrients and texture. If you’re planning on storing your frozen squash for a while, it may be worth the extra time.
The Puree-and-Freeze Method
This is my favorite method because, with a few extra minutes of prep, my butternut squash will be ready to throw into a sauce, stew, or soup and requires no additional cooking time beyond the thawing process.
Once you have the raw butternut squash cubed, you can roast, microwave, or steam until cooked through. NOTE: I don’t recommend seasoning squash at this stage as you’ll be seasoning according to your recipes at a later date.
Mash or blend to your desired consistency and divvy up into ice cube trays or muffin tins and freeze for an hour or until solid. Remove squash from trays/tins and place in labeled storage bags or containers for future use.
Bonus Tip: This is an awesome way to prep homemade baby food using fresh ingredients, and can be done with all kinds of veggies and fruits.
What is your favorite way to freeze butternut squash? I’d love to hear how you use your frozen-ahead butternut squash and what recipes are your favorite.