Preserving Pumpkin & Winter Squash

Pamela Schmutz
Home & Garden Information Center

The deep orange color of pumpkin flesh is a sure sign that pumpkin is a good source of vitamin A. In fact, a one-half cup serving of cooked pumpkin contains more than 100 percent of the required vitamin A and 26 calories. Pumpkin seeds are high in protein and fat. For pie filling and other cooking needs, select sugar pumpkins — a smaller, sweeter variety with close-grained flesh.

The easiest way to prepare the pulp of pumpkins or hard winter squashes is to bake them in the oven. To do so, wash the pumpkin or squash and cut in half crosswise. Remove its seeds and strings. Place the halves in a pan, shell side up. Bake in a 325 °F oven for one hour or more until the flesh becomes tender and begins to fall apart. Scrape the pumpkin or squash from the shell and put through a ricer or food processor to form a smooth consistency. The pulp may be frozen for use later, but the pureed pulp cannot be safely canned. To freeze, cool pumpkin first by placing the pan of cooked pumpkin in ice cold water and stirring occasionally. Place cooled puree into freezer containers or freezer bags, leaving ½-inch headspace, and freeze.

Enjoy pumpkin seeds by drying and then roasting them as follows: To dry, carefully wash pumpkin or squash seeds to remove the clinging fibrous tissue. Seeds can be dried in a dehydrator at 115 to 120 °F for 1 to 2 hours, or in an oven on warm for 3 to 4 hours. Stir them frequently to avoid scorching. To roast, take dried seeds, toss with oil and/or salt and roast in a preheated oven at 250 °F for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cubes of pumpkin and winter squash may be canned, but DO NOT can mashed or pureed pulp, including pumpkin butter. Spaghetti squash should not be canned because it will not stay cubed when heated. For information on canning pumpkin and winter squash, see HGIC 3281, Preserving Pumpkin & Winter Squash.

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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.