Fall is almost identical to the holiday seasons. And it’s also time to harvest pumpkins!
Suppose you have more pieces to use in the foreseeable future. In this case, you might be looking for a way to preserve this winter squash variety.
So, can you freeze pumpkins?
Absolutely, yes! Just like other squash varieties, pumpkin also freezes pretty well. It makes an excellent, hassle-free, healthy ingredient for your family. Keep reading to find the easy and quick ways to freeze pumpkins.
How to Freeze Pumpkin Chunks
What’s best with freezing is that it doesn’t require special kitchen skills. Whether you’re an amateur or an experienced home cook, you surely can freeze this nutritious fruit successfully. Here is how to do it.
1. Select a fully ripe pumpkin with deep orange color. It should be free of bruises and soft spots.
2. Wash it under clean running water, do not use soap. Get rid of any debris and other contaminants.
3. Cut it in half for easier handling. If the squash is too large, cut it into four sections (or more).
4. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Set them aside for roasting; they make quick, delicious snacks.
5. Place the pieces in a baking sheet with cut sides down and bake for 20 to 40 minutes at 350 °F until soft – feel free to adjust the baking time. Pumpkin can also be boiled or steamed if you’d like.
6. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes
7. When the cooked pumpkin is cool to touch, peel the skin off. When it is thoroughly cooked, the skin can be easily peeled with little to no effort.
8. Slice it to bite-size or other sizes that work for your recipes.
9. For freezing a large quantity, consider portioning it out to your favorite recipes. Whenever you need it, you can easily pull a bag. Smaller packs also take less time to thaw.
10. Pack each portion in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Leave ½ headspace to allow for expansion.
11. Seal the container well, label with the freezing date and amount.
12. Place the package in the freezer.
You might be wondering whether or not you can freeze raw pumpkin. Yes, you can. However, it retains the color, texture, and flavors better when blanched or cooked before freezing – especially if you plan to freeze it for months to a year.
If you want to freeze raw pumpkin chunks, simply follow the steps above except the cooking stage. Cut the squash to 1-inch cubes (or any preferred size), portion them out, pack in a freezer bag, and freeze.
Freezing Pumpkin Puree
To freeze pumpkin puree, you can follow similar steps as freezing in chunks. After cooking, slice into smaller pieces and process in a food processor or blender.
Next, the puree can be frozen in freezer bags or in ice cube trays. The latter is an excellent option if a typical recipe only needs a small amount, such as smoothies or sauces.
Freezing in freezer bags. Portion out the puree, pack into a freezer bag. Flatten out the bag, leave as little air as possible, seal the bag tightly, and label it. It’s ready to be placed in the freezer.
Freezing in ice cube trays. Spoon the puree into the tray. For a slightly bigger portion, use muffin tins. Flash freeze for several hours. Once frozen, pack the cubes in a freezer bag, seal tightly, label it, and freeze.
Thawing and Using Frozen Pumpkin
There are so many perks to having a freezer full of frozen pumpkin. Aside from preserving your harvest and saving money, it saves you a lot of time!
Pumpkin makes a wide array of delicious dishes, sweet and savory. Even the frozen version is extremely useful. There are hundreds of delicious recipes using it. Here is a list to use up your frozen supply and bring the autumn flavors to your home.
1. Soups, stews, and curries
2. Vegetarian chili
3. Morning smoothies and milkshakes
4. Pumpkin spice latte
5. Add to creamy pasta sauces
6. Mac and cheese and other pasta dishes
7. Sweet baked goods, such as pies, cakes, muffins, and custard
When you’re ready to use, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight to have it ready the next day. If there is an unused portion, keep it refrigerated in a sealed container and use it within 3 to 4 days.
In case you forgot to defrost it in advance, submerge the frozen package in cold water or defrost it in the microwave. After thawing, use it immediately.
If using it for soups, stews, or curries, you can also throw it frozen. Let it thaw while cooking.
How Long Can You Refrigerate and Freeze Pumpkin?
Frozen pumpkin is best used for up to 8 to 12 months after freezing for the maximum flavors and textures. When it is frozen raw, it is best to use it within a few months.
Of course, you can keep it longer, but it won’t be as tasty. Be sure that it is continuously frozen at 0 °F to maintain safety and quality.
If the squash is frozen in the field, it’s probably going to rot faster than one picked before the frost sets in. But, if we’re talking about frozen pumpkin in your freezer, yes, it is great! It is as versatile and nutritious as the fresh one.
Both freezing and canning are great ways to preserve pumpkins for long-term storage. If you are new to home preservation methods, freezing is your best option; no fancy equipment needed nor complicated procedures. For canning, you need to follow a tested and well-researched method to ensure safety like this one from the National Center for Home Food Preservations.
Absolutely, yes. Prepare the filling, as usual, portion it out and pack into a freezer bag. Flatten it out, expel excess air, and seal tightly. Let it thaw completely in the refrigerator before pouring it into the pie shell.
Freshly cut pumpkins can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. For long-term storage, freezing is an excellent option. Follow our tips above to freeze pumpkin successfully!
If you are a fan of freezing things, you should definitely try freezing pumpkins. Just with a few easy steps, you can prolong your harvest, save money and time. They are great for both sweet and savory dishes and bring that warm holiday feeling to your home!