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Extension > Food > Food Safety > Preserving and Preparing > Vegetables and Herbs > Preserving Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Vegetables and Herbs

pumpkins and squash

Preserving Winter Squash and Pumpkins

By Carol Ann Burtness, Extension Educator — Food Safety

Revised 2011 by LouAnn Jopp, Extension Educator — Food Safety; reviewed 2012 by Suzanne Driessen, Extension Educator — Food Safety.

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.

Freezing

Freezing is the only safe method for preserving pumpkin purees, butters and preserves. Freeze these items for up to one year. Frozen pumpkin or squash is great to use in pies, desserts and as a vegetable. Thaw pumpkin and squash in the refrigerator - not on the counter - before using.

Canning

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,

To use canned pumpkin or squash, drain the jars, mash the cubes and re-heat.

Drying

One cup of dried pumpkin or squash is enough for one pie.

Pickling

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.

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