Cooking and Freezing Winter Squash and Pumpkin
Notes: Some winter squash, e.g. Blue Hubbard, and pumpkins are so large that they encourage average cooks to reach for the can. Yet, it's tough to find canned or frozen winter squash. That's unfortunate, because it is incredibly sweet and flavorful. This cook solves the dilemma by cooking one half for Thanksgiving and freezing the remaining half for late use. You can boil or steam chunks but peeling the squash first is very difficult. Both my canning books, Ball Blue Book and Sunset, call for pureeing them first, then freezing. Extension services have instructions for packing baked slices in a sugar syrup. All use a food mill, but my food mill leaves 3/4 of the pulp un-processed. Deborah Madson, A Savory Way suggests two options for peeling large squash: bake each half first till partly cooked (about 40 minutes) or slice it into 3/4" slices, then peel the slices and cube them. One medium-sized butternut squash yields about 4 cups of pulp and about 2 quarts of slices for freezing. Martha Stewart leaves seeds in while baking to improve flavor. You can also slice acorn or delicata whole and unpeeled before baking. That would require less baking time. 1 medium-sized butternut squash or pumpkin for packing in syrup: 1 1/2 cps water to 1 cp sugar and 1 T lemon juice (there should be enough syrup to cover the vegetable slices) 1. Wash and cut into halves lenghthwise. 2. Scoop out seeds and stringy membrane , or leave in and scrape out after baked. 3. Place squash cut side own in shallow baking dish (we used a cookie sheet with a rim). 4. Add 1/4" water and bake at 350 - 375 degrees. Remove the half for freezing when it is just crisp-tender. Leave other half in till fork-tender, but not mushy. 5. Remove from oven and cool. Scoop out pulp from one half. Process with cutting knife in food processor only until lightly pureed. Refrigerate till needed. 6. Cut other half into manageable sections and peel each section. Cut into 1/2" slices and store in freezer bag, with or without syrup.