There are weeks during the CSA season when I know that I just won't be able to eat everything in my share. I work late, and I travel often, and sometimes it's a challenge to use all of the produce before it goes bad or before the next week's CSA pickup. So over the past couple of years, I've learned how to save my veggies for later.
This past week I had five butternut squash that I knew I wouldn't be able to get to, so I decided to make some butternut squash cubes that I could freeze and use in future dishes. With the help of my trusty FoodSaver, which is a must-have for any CSA shareholder, I was able to freeze butternut squash cubes that will keep for up a to a year in my freezer. They'll taste as if they were freshly picked from the farm months from now, which is amazing.
Freezing butternut squash is easy. You could peel and dice the squash and freeze the cubes raw, but then you'll need to thaw the frozen squash before using it. I decided to pre-cook the squash, so if I decide to use it in a dish, I could put the frozen squash directly into the dish without having to wait to thaw it.
So how did I do it?
First, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, and as it heated up I cleaned the squash and sliced each one in half (lengthwise).
I placed the squash halves fleshy-side down in a couple of baking dishes. Then I filled each dish with about a half inch of water. I eyeballed it, so maybe it was a little more. I used enough water to make sure that the squash was "wading" in it. Then I took the baking dishes and placed them in the oven, letting the squash cook for 45 minutes.
After baking the squash for 45 minutes, I pulled them out of the oven and let them cool for about 30 minutes. After they were cool enough to handle, I peeled each butternut squash half using my fingers and a little pairing knife. The skin was a little blistered, so it made peeling the skin off kind of easy. Then I took the peeled squash half and cut it up into small one-inch cubes.
I placed the cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and I made sure the cubes didn't touch because I didn't want them to freeze together. After I arranged all the cubes on the sheets, I placed them in the freezer and let them freeze for two hours.
In a couple of hours, each cube was frozen solid and ready to be freezer packed. I could've put them in freezer bags or in a freezer container, but I like using the FoodSaver for vacuum sealing. Also, I think vacuum sealing helps frozen veggies last much longer (more than a few months).
I divided the cubes into two bags (enough for two big meals), and FoodSaver'd them. The FoodSaver sealing process takes less than a minute.
Once the bags were sealed, I labeled them with the date and stored them in the freezer. Super simple!
And now I have precooked butternut squash ready to be used the next time I want an easy side or need it as an ingredient in a dish (like my butternut squash risotto).