If you store it correctly, you can preserve squash in excellent condition all through the winter, however sometimes it’s easier to have some prepared and ready to use for when you don’t have time for peeling, chopping and cooking from scratch.
Preserving pumpkin in the freezer
In these cases preserving pumpkin by freezing it is ideal. Peel and deseed your squash or pumpkin and cut the flesh into smallish chunks. Cook in salted boiling water until tender or in the microwave, then place into freezer bags.
Preserving pumpkin from autumn onwards
To ensure your squashes will remain in the best condition while stored over winter, first you have to pick them at the right time. As autumn passes, keep an eye on your squash and pumpkins. They should be left to mature still on the plant right up until the first frosts so they become as sweet as possible. Once the frosts arrive you won’t be able to store your squash. While your fruits are ripening, place a board underneath so the bottom doesn’t discolour or come under attack by slugs.
Squashes are ripe when the skin is smooth but tough and when a sharp tap on the side rings hollow. The colour will be deep and rich. Cut your fruit off the plant as high up the stalk as you can using secateurs. Hold the fruit from the bottom rather than by the stalk. Allow the squash to cure in the sunlight or in a greenhouse or cold frame for about ten days, bringing them in at night if you’re likely to get any frost.
You can then place your squashes in a cool (between 10C-15C) and dry but well ventilated space to store them over winter. A well stored squash will keep for up to six months.
Preserving pumpkin in jars
Thanks to a low acid content, pumpkin can’t be canned in a water bath or in pureed form. It must be preserved in chunks, in a pressure canner. If you have a pressure canner, cook the pumpkin as for freezing, but use the chunks and cooking liquid to fill your canning jars, leaving only 2-3cm of airspace at the top. Place the jars in your pressure cooker according to instructions and process for the required amount of time.
The preserved pumpkin flesh is ideal for use in pumpkin pies, jams, soups or even pumpkin bread! Don’t throw away the seeds either when preparing your fruit, as these can be roasted to make a delicious, healthy snack.