Bought a way too big pumpkin and need to preserve the leftovers for later?
If so, you’re here because you’re wondering if you can freeze pumpkins.
You can freeze pumpkins, both raw and cooked. To freeze a raw pumpkin, dice it, pre-freeze on a cookie sheet and transfer to a freezer bag. For cooked pumpkin, you can freeze it in chunks or purée it, depending on how you’re going to use it after defrosting.
Freezing pumpkins is an easy way to preserve them for later and comes in quite handy if you bought a giant one and still have two-thirds of it after making dinner.
That’s because while whole pumpkins last quite a while, they only keep for so long after cutting them up.
One thing to note is that defrosted pumpkin turns out quite soft, unlike fresh pumpkin, which is pretty firm. But you’re most likely going to cook the pumpkin anyway, so that’s not a huge issue in most cases.
If you already puréed your pumpkin, and you’re interested in freezing it, here’s a guide on freezing pumpkin purée. The rest of the article will focus on freezing pumpkin chunks, either raw or cooked.
How To Freeze Pumpkins?
Here’s a simple way to freeze pumpkins:
- Prep. Cut the leftover pumpkin into quarters, then remove the seeds and the rind.
- Dice it. Go with the dice size that makes sense for whatever you’re going to use the pumpkin after defrosting. Usually, the size is not that big of a deal anyway.
- Pre-freeze the diced pumpkin. Place the chunks on a cookie sheet lined up with aluminum foil or a silicone mat (my favorite) in a way they don’t touch one another. If some of them touch a bit, it’s not a huge problem. Then place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the chunks freeze solid, which takes at least a few hours.
- Transfer into freezer bags. Grab the cookie sheet, break apart any clumps that might have formed, and transfer the chunks into a freezer bag or container. Label it with a name and date if you want.
- Freeze. Place the bags or containers in the freezer.
Freezing pumpkins is as simple as that. The only downside is that it’s a two-step process, meaning you cannot do everything in one go, at least in most cases.
(You can use the same process when freezing butternut squash.)
Now, let’s talk about how you can further refine the process so that it works best for what you need.
Freezing Pumpkins Tips
Skip Pre-freezing (If You Can)
If you portion the pumpkin chunks or know you’re going to use all of them at once, there’s no need to pre-freeze them.
The pre-freezing step is there because it allows you to easily grab a portion of the frozen chunks from the bag without having to defrost it all. If you don’t need that option, skip pre-freezing.
Alternatively, you can try to loosely fit the chunks in the bag, freeze them, and then break apart ones that froze together. If you’re short on time, that’s another way to skip this step.
Use Freezer Bags Instead of Containers
Freezer bags take less room in the freezer, and it’s much easier to fit them into any free space that you have in there. If you freeze a couple of bags, freeze them flat so that they’re easily stackable.
Freezing Whole Pumpkins
If you want to freeze the pumpkin with the rind on so that you can bake it and make purée afterward, that’s an option too.
Cut the whole thing into quarters or eights, remove the seeds, and freeze with the rind on in a freezer bag.
Do You Need to Blanch Pumpkins for Freezing?
Blanching pumpkin chunks before freezing them is an option, but I leave it up to you to decide if it’s worth it.
Blanching should help the quality stay better for longer, but for pumpkins, the difference shouldn’t be that big, and that’s why I skip blanching.
If you’re not in a hurry and want that frozen pumpkin to be of as high quality as possible for as long as it could, blanch the pumpkin chunks. Otherwise, skip it, and you’re going to be fine.
How to Blanch Butternut Squash for Freezing
If you decide to blanch your cut-up pumpkin before freezing the chunks, here’s how you do it:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Plunge the pieces for 2 to 4 minutes (depending on dice size) in the water.
- Transfer the pumpkin into a bowl of cold water (possibly with some ice cubes), and leave it there for the same amount of time to stop the cooking process.
- Strain the water and leave the chunks to dry before you proceed with pre-freezing.
How Long Can You Freeze Pumpkin?
Use your frozen pumpkin within up to 3 months of freezing for the best quality. If it sits in the freezer for longer, its quality will be worse (depending on how long it’s frozen), but it’s going to stay safe to eat pretty much forever.
As usual, I suggest you use the frozen diced pumpkin within a month or two of freezing while you still remember that it’s there.
If it gets buried under other foods that you froze and you forget about it, chances are it’ll sit there until you buy a pumpkin next year and need to freeze the leftovers.
How to Defrost Frozen Pumpkin?
The two best methods for defrosting frozen pumpkin chunks are:
- In the fridge. You place the bag or container in the refrigerator the night before you need the squash, and the chunks are ready to go the next day. The only downside is that you have to plan ahead and know when you’re going to need them.
- On the stove. If you’re cooking a soup, a curry, or anything similar on the stove, and there’s already some liquid in the pot or pan, you can usually add the frozen pumpkin right in (like you do with frozen veggies you buy). It’s going to need a couple of extra minutes to thaw and cook, and it’ll require stirring, but that’s a decent option if you forgot to defrost the pumpkin ahead of time. Also, increase the cooking time by a couple of minutes to account for reheating the chunks.
As I already mentioned in the intro, defrosted pumpkin is much softer (but not mushy) than a fresh one. Because of that, cooking or baking will likely take less time than doing the same with a fresh pumpkin.
To adjust for that, shorten your baking time by a couple of minutes, or check the pumpkin for doneness a few minutes earlier than usual.
Freezing Pumpkins FAQ
Can You Freeze Pumpkin With Skin On?
Yes, freezing the pumpkin with the skin on is the best freezing option if you plan on baking it after thawing it (e.g., to make purée). Otherwise, remove the rind and cut the squash into chunks, and freeze those instead.
Can You Freeze Cooked Pumpkin?
You can freeze cooked pumpkin chunks in an airtight container. However, those chunks might dry out a bit after defrosting and reheating. The way to fix this issue is to use them in a dish with some sauce that will make the pumpkin nice and tasty.
If you have some homemade pumpkin puree, read my article on freezing canned pumpkin.
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