Friday, October 11, 2013

Frugal Friday: Kitchen Tip/Tutorial - Freezing Winter Squash Cubes

Last week I shared some tips on how to peel a winter squash. As I've mentioned before, winter squash are wonderful foods to grow in the garden because they will store so well all winter long. We usually pick them just before the first frost and then cure them in a warm place for a couple of weeks (many of them sit around our house as fall harvest decorations...). Then we put them down in our basement and they store well for at least 6 months. As I mentioned last week, we had a few squash from last year's harvest last a full year! That's the longest we've ever had them last.

When we're ready to use one, we like to use the whole thing because that is being frugal. But often they are too big to eat in one or even two meals. One great thing that you can do with the rest of the squash that can't be used immediately is to freeze it in cubes. It's nice to have frozen winter squash cubes for dishes like: Roasted Seasonal Vegetables, Roasted Winter Squash Cubes, Grilled or Broiled Veggie Kebabs, and other soups, sauces and stews.

Kitchen Tip/Tutorial - How to Freeze Winter Squash Cubes
Printable Tutorial

Step 1: First cube and peel the uncooked winter squash (for helpful tips, please see post on how to peel a winter squash). Winter Squash that work well for this method include butternut, Hubbard, banana, pumpkin, sunshine and more. Stringy types like acorn and spaghetti probably won't produce great results using this method.

Step 2: Fill steamer pot half full of water and heat until boiling.

Step 3: Place winter squash cubes in a steamer basket.

Step 4: Immerse steamer basked with winter squash cubes into boiling water for 3 minutes. Start the timer immediately after placing the squash cubes in the boiling water. This is called blanching. Blanching is important in freezing most vegetables because it's stops the enzyme action, which can cause a loss of flavor, color, and texture.

Step 5: When 3 minutes is up, immediately remove steamer basket from stove and immerse winter squash cubes in cold water to stop the cooking process.

Step 6: Wait a few minutes, then drain them in a colander and let cool completely.

 Step 7: When they are cool, pack squash cubes into freezer bags, label and freeze. Frozen winter squash cubes will be best if used within 6 months. When ready to use, just pull out of the freezer and thaw and drain completely. Then use in recipes that call for winter squash cubes.


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