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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Freezing Winter Squash

Preserving winter squash can be a challenge if you do not have a basement, live in an apartment or have a rodent problem. Our house does not have a basement so I tried keeping the squash in the garage. The mice took little nibbles of their gourmet meal and thanked us very much! So my husband built an insulated locker unit for root vegetables. The mice obviously found the key! They left us notes asking for more. I tried storing in an unused room that I could keep cooler but the mice decided indoors was nicer than out in the garage. While I keep whatever squash I will use fresh in the kitchen, I preserve winter squash by freezing as is or in a variety of side dishes. This is one of my favourite ways to freeze winter squash. I like accorn squash but this method will work for any winter squash.

Accorn Squash

Most squashes are very inexpensive here this time of year making them a good nutritional choice for the money. I can get anywhere from three to five accorn squash for a dollar! So it is almost not worth the aggravation of dealing with squash borer by growing my own especially when I'm using the square foot gardening method. I have successfully grown accorn squash in the past but did not this year. Instead the space was put into zucchini something that is surprisingly difficult to get here quite often.

I have two theories on this problem starting with one zucchini plant produces a lot so if you know how to use zucchini, any home gardener can have a nice stash reducing the demand in the grocery stores. I also think some home gardeners turn some off of zucchini by picking the squash too late so the flesh is woody. Baseball bat sized zucchini are not desireable! Always pick zucchini when they are six to eight inches long with ten inches being maximum for best flavour and texture.

Accorn is one of my favourite squashes followed by sweet potato squash. We use a lot of it either as a side dish or pie filling. Surprisingly my husband does not like squash unless it is in pie or soups yet we still use a lot of squash. I like evenly coloured squash with a rich dark rind. I get mine from my local farmer's market usually the same day they have been picked.

Roasted Accorn Squash

I like to either bake or roast winter squash but I have boiled to puree in place of pumpkin. If canning, both squash and pumpikn must not be pureed but left as chunks. Pureed squashes are too dense to properly pressure can.

Roasting gives a nice depth to any squash. I simply cut in half, scoop out the seeds, add a little butter and salt then roast on the grill. Sugar or sweeteners are never added to squash in our home. I detest the taste of sweetened squash with the exception of when using for pie filling. Once the squash is roasted, I scoop out the contents into muffin tins for freezing.

Squash for Freezing

This is a very simple trick I picked up somewhere along the line and use it when freezing certain vegetables. This trick works well for any mashed or pureed type of fruit or vegetable. It is a perfect way to store left-over tomato paste too. Each accorn squash half will yield two large muffin cups. This basically is a single serving size. Spoon and mash the squash into the muffin cups. Freeze then pop the squash out ready for packaging.

Sealed Squash

By far my preferred method of sealing the squash for freezing is vacuum sealing. Here's my blatant plug for vacuum sealers. If you are in anyway serious about food preservation, get a vacuum sealer and attachements to seal jars. You will not regret buying one and you do not have to buy the most expensive either. I replaced my older DCI ($29 with no jar attachment) with a Rival SAM ($79 with accessory attachment). It was one of the best things I did as far as food preserving. A vacuum virtually eliminates any problems with frosting or freezer burn and if you use it for sealing your dry goods in mason jars, no more moisture getting in. I have used zipper style freezer bags in the past. If the air is removed as much as possible, frost build-up or freezer burn should be kept to a minimum. A trick to remove the air is zip up the bag to almost the end. Stick a straw in the end opening. Manually suck the air out. It works.

1 food lovers commented:

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks for reading my blog. I'm sorry to hear of your father's passing and can understand how you feel overwhelmed. It it a difficult time.

Squash bore can be cut out of the stem if you catch them early enough. I have information on this on my main gardening blog. I'll try the nylon stocking trick to see if it works. I have a couple other ideas so will test all out next growing season.