Michigan Fresh: Using, Storing, and Preserving Winter Squash (HNI19)

Winter squash can be preserved and served in many ways. Michigan-grown winter squash is available September through November.

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Using, Storing, and Preserving Winter Squash

Recommended varieties 

Acorn, banana, buttercup, butternut, Golden Delicious, Hubbard and spaghetti squash are recommended for freezing.

Storage and Food Safety

  • Purchase squash with stems that are not shriveled, blackened or moist.
  • Wash hands before and after handling fresh produce.
  • Scrub winter squash with a vegetable brush using cool running water before cooking or cutting. Do not use soap.  Do not wash squash before storing.
  • Keep squash away from raw meat and meat juices to prevent cross-contamination
  • Store whole winter squash in a cool (45 to 50 degrees F.) place.  If stored properly, most varieties will keep up to 3 months.
  • Store cut squash in the refrigerator and use within a week.
  • For best quality and to preserve nutritional value, preserve only what your family can consume in one year. 

Yield

1 pound one large acorn squash
One small acorn squash 2 half-cup servings
3 pounds winter squash 2 pints canned
10 pounds a canner load of 9 pints
16 pounds a canner load of 7 quarts

How to Preserve

Canning

Winter squash, cubed

Squash should have a hard rind and stringless, mature pulp of ideal quality for cooking fresh.

Wash, remove seeds, cut into 1-inch slices, and peel. Cut flesh into 1-inch cubes. Boil 2 minutes in water. Caution: Do not mash or puree. Fill jars with cubes and cooking liquid, leaving 1 inch headspace.  Wipe jar rims, adjust lids and process following these recommendations:

Freezing

Winter squash (acorn, banana, buttercup, butternut, Golden Delicious, Hubbard, spaghetti)

Select firm, mature squash with a hard rind. For spaghetti squash, mashing the cooked pulp is not necessary.

Cook until soft in boiling water, in steam, in a pressure cooker or in an oven. Remove pulp from rind and mash. To cool, place pan containing winter squash in cold water and stir occasionally. Package leaving ½ inch headspace, remove air, seal, label, date and freeze.

Recommended processing time for winter squash in a dial-gauge pressure canner at different altitudes.

Style of pack Jar size Process time 0-2,000 ft. 2,001-4,000 ft. 4,001-6,000 ft. 6,001-8,000 ft.
Hot Pints 55 min. 11 lb. 12 lb. 13 lb. 14 lb.
Hot Quarts 90 min. 11 lb. 12 lb. 13 lb. 14 lb.

Recommended process time for winter squash in a weighted-gauge pressure canner at different altitudes.

Style of pack Jar size Process time 0-1,000 ft. Above 1,000 ft.
Hot Pints 55 min. 10 lb. 15 lb. 
Hot Quarts 90 min. 10 lb. 15 lb.

Let jars sit undisturbed for 24 hours, check lids to be sure they’ve sealed, remove rings, wash jars, date, label and store.

References

  • Information in this bulletin is based on Food Preservation Series—Winter Squash (Michigan State University Extension, October 2006) and Andress, Elizabeth and Judy A. Harrison.
  • Andress, Elizabeth and Judy A. Harrison. So Easy to Preserve Bulletin 989, 6th Edition. Cooperative Extension University of Georgia, 2014.
  • National Center for Food Preservation. http://nchfp.uga.edu/

More information

Prepared by: Laurie Messing, MSU Extension educator

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