Preserving winter squash and pumpkins
Pumpkins and squash can be preserved for later use by freezing, canning, or drying. They should have a hard rind and stringless mature pulp. Small size pumpkins (sugar or pie varieties) make better products.
FreezingFreezing is the only safe method for preserving pumpkin purees, butters and preserves.
- Select full-colored mature pumpkin with fine texture.
- Wash, cut into cooking-size sections and remove seeds.
- Cook until soft in boiling water, in steam, in a pressure cooker, or in an oven.
- When soft, remove pulp from rind and mash.
- To cool, place pan containing pumpkin in cold water and stir occasionally.
- Pack into rigid containers leaving ½ -inch headspace, and freeze.
The only safe instructions for canning pumpkin and winter squash are for cubed flesh in a pressure canner.
Caution: do not mash or puree! The density of this product prevents adequate heat transfer to the center of the jar and may allow harmful bacteria to survive.
To can pumpkin or squash,
- Cut the flesh into one-inch cubes.
- Boil the cubes in water for two minutes.
- Fill the jars with cubes and cooking liquid, leaving one-inch of headspace.
- Pumpkin and squash are low-acid vegetables and must be pressure canned. Process the vegetables at:
- 11 pounds pressure in a dial gauge pressure canner, or
- 15 pounds pressure in a weighted-gauge pressure canner.
- For either method, process pints for 55 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes.
To use canned pumpkin or squash, drain the jars, mash the cubes and re-heat.
- Wash, peel, and remove fibers and seeds from pumpkin or squash flesh.
- Cut into small, thin strips, no more than 1 inch wide by 1/8 inch thick
- Blanch strips over steam for 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
- Dry the strips in a dehydrator until brittle.
- To reconstitute, use one cup of dried food to two cups of water.
- Pre-soak for one hour and then boil until tender.
One cup of dried pumpkin or squash is enough for one pie.
Use pumpkin or squash in pickled products such as salsas, chutneys and relishes, but treat these products as fresh foods and refrigerate them. They cannot be safely canned by either the boiling water or pressure canning methods.
Butters and preserves
Pumpkin butters and gelled preserves are popular, but they cannot be safely canned for room temperature storage.
Pumpkin and squash are low-acid foods and require special attention to preparation and processing.
Currently, the USDA does not have any tested recipes for safely canning pumpkin preserves (jams, jellies, conserves or pumpkin butter).
Refrigerate or freeze these items to ensure they will be safe to eat.
Reviewed by Suzanne Driessen 2017