Got a leftover half a can of pumpkin purée and not sure what to do with it?
Well, freezing is an option, and a really good one.
You can freeze pumpkin purée, and it freezes well. Before placing it in the freezer, transfer the leftover purée from the can to a plastic container or a freezer bag, depending on what makes the most sense for you. Or use an ice cube tray if you’re going to use it as baby food.
Of course, you can freeze both canned pumpkin pureé just as well as homemade one. In fact, freezing is the best way to preserve fresh pumpkin purée if you make a huge amount.
If you want to learn more, here’s what I cover below:
- how to freeze canned pumpkin purée
- tips for freezing the leftovers
- defrosting frozen purée
- using the thawed purée
Sounds interesting? Read on.
How to Freeze Pumpkin Purée?
Here’s a simple way to freeze pumpkin purée:
- Divide into portions. If you have lots of purée on hand, start by portioning the leftovers. Go with portion sizes that make the most sense for how you’re going to use the purée after thawing.
- Transfer the portions. Each portion gets its own airtight container or freezer bag. Place a label with the name and date on each one if you find it helpful.
- Freeze everything.
That’s it. The whole process shouldn’t take you more than a couple of minutes, and it works great for both canned pumpkin and fresh homemade purée (pumpkin purée lasts only a couple of days in the fridge).
If you need to freeze cooked butternut squash, you can puree it and use the same process.
Never freeze an unopened can of pumpkin. It might break at the seams in the freezer, and you’ll end up with a huge mess. Instead, open the can, transfer the pumpkin to bags or containers, and freeze it this way.
Tips for Freezing Pumpkin Purée
The freezing process for pumpkin purée is super simple, but I have a couple of tips to help you adjust it to your needs.
Before you freeze the purée, make a rough plan for how you’re going to use it so that you know how to portion the leftovers.
For example, I had about 1 and 3/4 cups of pumpkin purée left, and I decided to make two pumpkin cakes with it. The first one called for a cup, while the other needed three-fourths of a cup, so that worked out beautifully.
The main advantage of planning in advance how you’re going to use the purée is that you don’t need to deal with any leftovers after defrosting it.
If you don’t have a plan just yet, go with one cup portions. That’s good enough for many recipes out there, and if yours needs more, you can always defrost 2 (or more) containers.
Containers or Freezer Bags
I usually go with small containers when freezing pumpkin purée, but freezer bags are also a good option.
If you go with the bags, you can freeze them flat and easily stack them in the freezer, saving some room. Plus, flat-frozen bags defrost much quicker because of the large surface area.
Choose an Ice Cube Tray for Baby Food
An ice cube tray is the best option if you’re freezing the purée to use it as baby food. It allows you to freeze the purée in small cubes and defrost a few of them every time you need some.
When going with an ice cube tray, transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag or container once they freeze solid. This way, you free up the tray and a bit of room in the freezer (which is nice if you have a small one, like me).
How Long Can You Freeze Pumpkin Purée?
Try to use the frozen pumpkin purée within 3 to 6 months of freezing for the best quality.
Please note that that’s just a rough estimate, and your frozen canned pumpkin should still taste quite alright even after 9 to 12 months of freezing, assuming that it was sealed tight.
In other words, the sooner you use it, the better, but it’s not like you need to use the puree within a month of freezing or something like that.
How to Defrost Pumpkin Purée?
There are three good options to defrost pumpkin purée:
- In the fridge. If you need the purée for pumpkin pie, a pumpkin cake, or anything similar, it needs to be liquid, which means thawing it in the fridge. Depending on the container and its size, it might take between 2 to even 10 hours. To defrost, place the bag or container with the frozen puree in a bowl with cold water.
- On the stove. If you’re cooking a pumpkin soup (or something similar), those usually call for the puree when it’s already a bit of stock (or broth) in the pot. That’s a perfect setup for adding frozen pumpkin puree. You add it, stir it for a couple of minutes in the warm liquid, and it’s defrosted. Make sure you bring the soup to a boil after adding the purée.
- In the microwave. Set your microwave on defrost or 50% power, and microwave the pumpkin in 30- to 45-second bursts. After every nuke, scrape off a bit of purée that’s already defrosted so that the inner layers can thaw. If the purée turns out super dry after defrosting, stir in a couple of teaspoons of water. As usual, make sure you defrost the pumpkin purée in a microwave-safe container and use all of the defrosted purée right after defrosting.
The setup for defrosting in the fridge looks like this:
And here’s what you should end up with after defrosting your canned pumpkin:
There’s a bit of water visible, but you can stir that in, and the purée is perfectly fine.
If you don’t have a microwave and need to defrost the pumpkin purée quickly, you can use a non-stick skillet. Put it on low heat and keep stirring until everything is nice and liquid. It’s not a perfect way, but it gets the job done.
Using Thawed Pumpkin Purée
Since pumpkin purée freezes very well, you can use it pretty much the same way you use fresh puree (or your canned pumpkin).
That means that everything from baked goods like pumpkin pie and cakes (here’s one recipe, and you can skip the frosting to keep it simple) to pumpkin soup is all on the menu.
(And many of these, like pumpkin pie, freeze well.)
So if you bought a giant pumpkin and used half of it (pumpkin leftovers last only a couple of days), the easiest way out is to purée the leftovers and freeze them. Or take that puree, turn it into pumpkin pie filling, and freeze that instead.
Alternatively, you can freeze pumpkin chunks if that’s what you need for your favorite pumpkin recipe.