Got too much butternut squash and need to save some for later?
If that’s the case, you’re probably wondering if you can freeze butternut squash and, if so, how to go about it.
You can freeze butternut squash, both raw and cooked. To freeze raw butternut, dice it, pre-freeze the cubes on a cookie sheet, and freeze long-term in a freezer bag. For cooked butternut, you can freeze it in chunks or puree it, depending on what you need after defrosting.
So if you bought a few too many butternuts or cooked way too much for the next few days, freezing is an easy way out.
That said, remember that butternut squash lasts up to two months, so if yours are still whole, you probably still have time to use them without freezing.
The only thing you should know before we talk about freezing in detail is that butternut squash softens after defrosting, the same way other veggies do. In most cases, that’s not an issue, though, because you’re going to cook it, and it will soften in the process anyway.
Let’s talk about freezing butternut squash.
Freezing Raw Butternut Squash
Here’s a simple way to freeze butternut squash:
- Prep. Cut the butternut into quarters, remove the seeds, and peel it. Peeling is a bit difficult because the rind is firm and thick, but it’s better to do that now instead of after defrosting.
- Cut the butternut into pieces. I typically dice winter squash, but if you need wedges, slices, or fries, that’s cool too. Go with what makes sense for how you’ll use the squash after defrosting.
- Pre-freeze the butternut squash. Grab a lined cookie sheet (parchment paper, silicone mat, and everything in between works) and spread the pieces in a single layer. Try to make them not touch one another. Once done, place that tray in the freezer until everything freezes solid. A couple of hours or overnight are both great options.
- Transfer into freezer bags. Remove the cookie sheet from the freezer, break apart any lumps, and transfer the squash into a freezer bag or container. Add a label with the name and date if you like and remember to squeeze out the air before you seal the bag.
- Freeze. Chuck the bags or containers into the freezer.
That’s it. The same process works for freezing pumpkins.
Can You Freeze Butternuts With Skin On?
You can freeze butternut halves and quarters if you want to roast them in the oven afterward (e.g., to make puree).
The major downside of roasting halves or quarters instead of cubes is that it’s difficult to get a good even roast, and the whole process takes much longer. But if that’s how you like to roast butternuts, it’s totally okay to freeze them without peeling and dicing.
I prefer to have my butternuts diced and ready for quick roasting, and that’s why I recommend freezing them cut up.
If you’re familiar with freezing veggies, you might have noticed that I didn’t ask you to blanch your butternut squash. Let’s talk about why.
Do You Need to Blanch Butternut Squash Before Freezing?
No, butternut squash freezes just fine without blanching it.
Of course, you can blanch butternuts if you’re interested in stopping the ripening action and getting a slightly better quality after defrosting, but it’s probably not worth it.
If you’re not in a hurry and happy about spending an extra 20 minutes in the kitchen (I never am), you can blanch cut butternuts prior to freezing. Otherwise, I suggest you skip it. You’re going to be fine either way.
But if you decide to blanch your butternuts, let’s talk about how.
How to Blanch Butternut Squash for Freezing
To blanch your butternut squash for freezing, do the following:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare another bowl with cold water, possibly with some ice cubes.
- Submerge the butternut squash pieces in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on size.
- Transfer the half-cooked pieces into the cold water bowl, and leave them there for the same period.
- Strain the butternut pieces and let them dry thoroughly before you proceed to pre-freezing them.
If you’re blanching a ton of butternut squash, consider changing the water every couple of batches so that it stays cold throughout.
Freezing Cooked Butternut Squash
You can freeze cooked butternut squash in any way that makes sense for you. Popular freezing options include:
- Butternut puree. This way of freezing is excellent for soups and baked goods. All you need to do is divide the puree into individual containers, each holding a single portion that you can use later, and freeze them. If you need details, check out my guide to freezing pumpkin puree.
- Meal-sized portions. Divide the cooked butternut cubes (or what have you) into containers or freezer bags, each one having enough for a single meal. Once done, you’re ready for freezing.
- Dishes. You can often double or triple your recipe and freeze the leftovers. It’s super convenient, as instead of defrosting an ingredient, you’re defrosting a ready-to-eat dish.
- Meal prep. If cooked butternut is a part of your meal prep, simply portion it into each container and freeze it with the other foods.
How Long Can You Freeze Butternut Squash?
Use your frozen butternut within three months for the best quality, but don’t worry if it sits frozen for six months or longer. The only thing that will happen during prolonged freezing will be a slight loss of quality.
Those three months are only a rough estimate, and you can easily find other sources that say the storage time is much longer (up to a year).
In other words, it’s not a big deal if the butternut is frozen for a prolonged period. You freeze it because you need it to last longer in the first place.
How to Defrost Butternut Squash
The best methods of defrosting frozen butternut are:
- In the fridge. Transfer the container or bag to the refrigerator and leave it there overnight – its contents should be nice and defrosted in the morning. If you’re thawing a large chunk, like half a butternut, you might need more time, closer to 12 to 16 hours.
- On the stove. If you’re using the butternut in a soup, curry, or anything similar that’s cooked on the stove, often you can skip defrosting and throw the butternut frozen. Any liquids that are already in the pot or skillet will defrost the veggie in no time. Just remember to watch the butternut closely so that it doesn’t burn (if there’s little liquid), and add a couple of extra minutes to the cooking time to adjust for defrosting the squash.
- In the oven. If you’re roasting butternut, you can try doing so without defrosting it first. The only issue here is that seasoning frozen butternut might not be as effective as you’d like, and roasting it after thawing might be a better option. Or try seasoning the butternut before freezing and see how it goes.
Please remember that when you’re cooking with defrosted butternut squash, it’s already quite soft, and cooking it will take less time than cooking a raw one.
So if what you’re making includes leaving the dish on the stove or in the oven alone for a certain period, check if it’s done a couple of minutes early.
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