It’s squash season! Who else can smell the pumpkin pies and roasted butternut waiting to be made?
If you have a garden, or just really love autumn and winter produce and want to take full advantage of its availability, you may be wondering about some of the best ways to use and store it for the long haul.
Although we primarily think of pumpkin, you can absolutely puree any of your favorite varieties!
Winter squash can find its way into almost any type of dish, from breakfast to dinner to dessert, and ups the nutrient quotient significantly.
For your picky eaters, it will only add a little sweetness that they’ll likely love, and you can rest assured they’re getting their daily dose of beta carotene. They’re also chock full of dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and all kinds of other good stuff.
Although most people think they are a vegetable, they’re actually considered a fruit!
There are two basic methods for pureeing squash: baking or boiling.
Some people prefer the taste of baked for the deeper flavor. If you choose to boil, you’ll get a more mild flavor, which can be useful for dessert recipes that call for it. Boiling is a slightly quicker method than baking.
To bake and puree, you’ll need:
• 1 squash of choice
• Large, rimmed baking sheet
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the squash in half, long ways. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and membranes and discard.
Place the fruit, flesh side down, in the rimmed baking sheet. Pour about a cup of water into the baking sheet, just enough to make a thin, even sheet of water.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until it’s tender. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
To boil and puree, you’ll need:
• 1 squash of choice
• Large pot
Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the squash in half long ways. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and membranes and discard. Peel and cube it into evenly sized pieces, about 1 inch by 1 inch.
Fill the large pot about halfway with water and bring to a boil. Lightly salt the water if desired.
Add the cubed squash to the water and boil for 10-15 minutes, until it’s fork tender. Drain and add to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
If you want to store large batches, I recommend canning or freezing. For canning guides, check out Foodal’s How to Start Canning Your Own Foods at Home and Water Bath Canning Made Easy.
To freeze, you can spoon the fruit into freezer-safe plastic bags or storage containers.
My favorite way to freeze and store these, as well as foods like soups and stocks, is to use a vacuum food sealer. This method protects a little better against freezer burn and the bags take up less of the precious little space in my freezer!
Varieties of Squash
You can really puree and store nearly any variety of squash, although I wouldn’t recommend spaghetti, as it has a much different texture than other varieties.
A stand-alone puree with a little seasoning, be it savory or sweet, makes a great side dish, or it can be added to some of your favorite dishes.
Pumpkin takes the award for fall favorite and it’s one of the few you’ll find available canned and ready to go at the grocery store. However, fresh pumpkin has much more flavor than the grocery store variety!
Try making it at home and you won’t go back. Although most of us often just think of pumpkin pie, try using it in soups or curries for something a little different. In fact, check out Lynne’s pumpkin soup recipe.
Butternut is another very popular variety. It has a similar flavor to pumpkin, although a little lighter. Butternut puree is a great side dish on its own, but it’s also popularly used in soups and dishes like risotto, pasta, and even baked goods.
One of the most fun recipes I’ve seen is macaroni and cheese lightened up with butternut! Check out my take on it.
Like butternut and pumpkin, pureed acorn squash also makes a wonderful side dish. Just add a little butter and nutmeg for a simple, flavorful accompaniment to your main course. It also does very well in soups.
For something a little different, try acorn lasagna with plenty of ricotta cheese and sage. It makes a perfect complete meal for meatless Monday!
Blue hubbard is a wonderful fall fruit that doesn’t see as much of the limelight as the other varieties. Although you can use it in any of the savory dish ideas I’ve already listed, the blue hubbard is great in sweet dishes too.
This Thanksgiving, try making blue hubbard custard pie to add to the dessert table. You might find that it’s as popular as the classic pumpkin!
Buttercup is yet another wonderful varietal for pureeing and storing. You can use it in a simple soup, but it also works well in baked goods. Try pairing it with apples to make filling and nutritious breakfast muffins.
This season, give some new squash varieties a try, whether that means planting new things in your garden or grabbing something a little different from your farmers market.
You can find excellent recipes to put nearly any squash to use! When you find one that you really love, stock up so you can puree and store and enjoy that fruit all year long.
What’s your favorite way to use pureed winter squash? Let us know in the comments!
Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
About Chelsea Miller
Chelsea Miller, born and raised in Portland, Oregon, graduated from the University of Oregon where she discovered both her love of football and cooking great food. She's the founder of the food blog "A Duck's Oven" and began writing for Foodal in 2014.