Freezing the pumpkin for the winter and how to prepare a delicious dish from it?
As a rule, pumpkin is quite a large product, which is considered a seasonal. What to do if you have a huge vegetable in your hands, which is simply impossible to handle at once, but you want to keep its benefits for a long time? The answer is simple: you can freeze pumpkin for the winter.
Freezing pumpkin for the winter as mashed potatoes
According to numerous reviews, the most delicious mashed pumpkin for freezing for the winter is obtained from the baked vegetable. You don’t even have to peel the pumpkin to bake it. Simply cut the vegetable in two pieces and remove all the seeds. If the fruits are small, they can be baked directly in halves. Otherwise, each half is cut into several wide slices.
Pumpkin slices or halves are placed in an oven heated to 180-200 °C and baked for about an hour. The pumpkin should be soft. Once cooled, the pulp can easily be scraped out of the rind with an iron spoon and ground in a blender into a puree.
If there is no oven, the pumpkin slices in their peel can be boiled beforehand.
In any case, an additional time of about 40 to 50 minutes will be required. Then the flesh is easily separated from the skin and puréed with a fork, pounder or blender once it has cooled.
Pumpkin puree is most convenient to spread in small containers or molds for freezing. In this case they are placed in a freezer, left to freeze, then removed from the molds or containers and put into thick plastic bags for storage. This method makes it possible to have a dish that is practically ready to eat after defrosting. Therefore, pumpkin puree is put in the dish at the very end of cooking.
Frozen puree of baked pumpkin. it’s a great addition to the diet of the kids. It can also be added to a variety of baked goods, make from it caviar, cutlets, soufflés and jam. Pumpkin puree is used for making kissel and different drinks, such as smoothies.
How to prepare a vegetable for freezing?
To freeze pumpkin for the winter it is necessary to choose a fruit that is not overripe. Do not use pieces that have lain in the refrigerator. It is better to give preference to whole fresh vegetables. And you also need to make sure that the “tail” of the fruit is dry without rotting.
The basic preparation for freezing is to clean and wash the vegetable:
- The pumpkin should be well washed with running water. Even a special liquid soap for fruits and vegetables is used. But you can do without it.
- Cut the vegetable into pieces and take out the seeds and fibres. It is convenient to use a tablespoon for this. Only freeze the firm flesh.
- Remove the crust.
The next steps taken for freezing depend on the dish for which the particular pumpkin preserves will be used.
Selecting and preparing the pumpkin
Whether you grow this crop in your own vegetable garden or buy it in a store, there are ways to find a quality product. First of all, choose specimens that have reached full maturity. They have a hard, tough skin.
Do not choose fruits with dented or moldy areas, or with cuts and punctures. Tap the pumpkin. the sound should be muffled. Let it be specimens of medium or small size, since their flesh is less fibrous. When ripe, the tail is dry and the underbelly has a deep orange or bright yellow color.
To prepare a fresh vegetable for freezing, you need:
- Wash well, then dry the fruit with a clean waffle towel.
- Using a long knife, cut the pumpkin in half, then each half into 4 more pieces.
- Remove loose insides and seeds with a large spoon. Put seeds aside (they are edible).
- Peel the pumpkin slices, leaving only the pulp.
How to freeze cooked pumpkin
Frozen in the form of boiled or baked puree stores just as well as raw pumpkin. Let’s break down all the ways of pre-cooking. Preparation of the fruit is similar to the way with raw pumpkin: wash, slice, remove excess parts.
Boiled pumpkin, mashed potato
It is not recommended to boil pumpkin pulp longer than 10-15 minutes, otherwise it loses many vitamins. Fresh pumpkin is easy to boil, especially if you cut it into small cubes.
Boiled vegetable is best turned into mashed potatoes, this is the form in which hostesses store the pulp in the freezer in winter. How to pack mashed potatoes, ideas:
- Arrange the mass in plastic cups or buckets and cover them with food film.
- Place in small plastic containers with a lid.
- Use yogurt or sour cream boxes.
- Bags with clasps will also work.
Tip from Miss Clean Magazine: Use ice molds to make portioned pumpkin porridge for baby food.
For this method, do not peel the skin, but cut into bars with a ready-made base. This way, the pulp in the oven won’t stick to the baking tray because of the juice it releases. Baked pumpkin is very easy to peel off the crusts, so even more pulp comes off than in the raw form.
It is not necessary to bake the vegetable for a long time. as soon as the pulp is easily pierced with a fork, it can be removed from the oven.
The finished bars are cooled down, sub-zeroed, and placed in containers.
No less useful mashed pumpkin is prepared from baked pumpkin: simply mash the pulp with a fork or blender and pack it in the same way as suggested in the previous method with boiled mashed pumpkin.
The gentlest method of heat treatment is blanching. You’ll need a pot of water and a colander:
- Place the sliced pieces in a colander.
- When the water comes to a boil, lower the colander with the pumpkin into the pot and keep for no more than 2-3 minutes.
- Then cover the pulp with cold (ice cold) water.
- Dry the vegetable on a towel, freeze individually and transfer to storage bags.
Here’s a simple way to keep pumpkin as healthy and edible as possible immediately after defrosting.
Defrosting cooked pumpkin
A long heat treatment of the cooked pumpkin is no longer needed, so defrost it in the microwave and immediately add it to dishes: hot porridges, soups, toppings in the dough, etc. д.
Freezing a whole fresh pumpkin
Yes, freezing whole pumpkins is possible and even incredibly beneficial for storage. You do not need to treat the pumpkin as in the previous paragraphs, but only need to place it in the right place.
The basis for freezing a whole pumpkin is always that it should in no way be damaged, cut or with the tail torn off.
How long can you keep pumpkin in the freezer?
Opinions are divided here. Some say it can be stored for 10-12 months, others say 3 months is better. The truth is that the shape of the pumpkin is crucial.
Frozen cubes (especially raw pumpkin) stand up to freezing better than grated pumpkin, let alone mashed pumpkin. That is, freezing mashed potatoes should not be more than 3 months. In this case, you can still be sure that the taste and texture of the pumpkin will not deteriorate.
Generally, many fruits and vegetables can be frozen for up to 12 months, but pumpkin is less stable over time than some foods in this group. 3 months is almost always a safe limit for freezing it.
Tip: If you are going to store pumpkin puree for several months, strain it, for example, with a fine sieve. Why? This way you remove excess moisture and make the puree better to withstand longer storage in the freezer. At the same time, the puree itself will have a better consistency! Pumpkins can be very watery.
The freezing process with your own hands
In order to make a winter preserving, you will need:
- cutting board;
- A sharp knife;
- plastic containers for mashed potatoes (special containers, jars from dairy products or ordinary plastic cups);
- plastic bags (regular or with a slider).
With everything you need on hand, you’ll need to process the vegetable before storing it for an extended period of time.
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Preparation of raw materials
For frozen pumpkin to be better preserved at home during the winter, you need to choose ripe fruits of oblong oval-shaped nutmeg varieties with bright orange juicy flesh. The selected specimens should be washed under running water, blotted with a napkin and left to rest until completely dry, then peeled from the hard rind.
The most convenient way to clean. cut off the tops, put the vegetable horizontally on the table and peel from the skin with a sharp knife. Cut into two pieces the pumpkin is carefully cleaned of seeds and inedible core.
It is recommended to chop the pulp in large pieces and dry in the oven, which will make the mass sweeter, tastier and less watery, which will help to save space in the freezer. Seeds can not be thrown out, but also to dry in the oven. You will get a delicious and healthy treat.
Frozen in the form of mashed potatoes
The vegetable is cut into medium sized pieces. The skin is not cut off. Place it on a baking tray and put it in a preheated oven. Bake on low heat for about one hour. Readiness is checked by piercing the pieces with a fork. If the pulp is well baked, it becomes soft.
The baked vegetable is easily separated from the skin. The fruit is cleaned and whipped in a blender to the consistency of a thick homogeneous puree. Portion the mashed potatoes into containers prepared in advance, cover them with cling film (if there are no lids) and put them into the freezer for freezing.
This method will come in handy for those who have small children. This method is usually used to freeze pumpkin for baby food and even for cooking first aid, combining the product with other vegetable mixtures.
Freezing after blanching
This method will help to optimally preserve the taste and all the nutritional properties of the pumpkin. When using the method, the vegetable may not be peeled. Cut the chosen pieces into slices and blanch them in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Afterwards, drop in very cold water for about the same amount of time. For convenience, these manipulations can be carried out with the raw material in a colander. The main thing is to let the water drain after blanching.
Then lay the half-finished product on a tray so that the individual parts do not touch each other, otherwise they could stick together, and leave the pumpkin in the freezer. You can simply put cellophane on the bottom of the freezer compartment and place the pieces. After freezing, they are carefully portioned into bags and the pumpkin is sent back to the freezer for storage for the winter.
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Freezing after shredding
The vegetable is cut into medium-sized pieces, which are then grated on a coarse or medium grater. The prepared mass is spread out with a spoon into bags, leaving a small amount of air. Squeeze the bags slightly to make them flatter, and put them in the freezer.
Pumpkin chunks frozen this way are usually used for casseroles, soups, pumpkin pie filling, and even making sourdough.
How to Store Pumpkin in Freezer
Freezing in chunks
How to freeze sliced pumpkin properly? It is necessary to cut the fruit into bars and cubes. their size depends on the dish for which semi-finished product is intended:
- If you intend to use the billet for stuffing in baking, cut into smaller pieces;
- if the pumpkin is to be boiled in larger pieces.
It should be taken into account that the sliced pieces of pumpkin, which are supposed to be stored together, should be about the same size. They are then spread out on some kitchen surface and allowed to dry out a little from the excess moisture. Pre-freeze in the same way as blanched pumpkin. Then prepackaged in single-serving batches.
The bags are gently pressed down, giving them a flat shape, and placed in the freezer. This method is great for cooking various milk porridge. rice, millet and even semolina.
How long will pumpkin be stored
The cut fruit can be stored from a couple of days to a year. The time depends directly on the conditions created:
- Product placed in the refrigerator and not packed. up to 3 days.
- Packaged product kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
- The vegetable can be stored in the freezer for up to 12 months. This period depends on the cold and power level. If space does not allow, you can cut the vegetable into small pieces, remove the peel and rind, grate on a coarse grater and packet. It tastes weaker when it is cooked, but it is perfect for stewing.
- At room temperature, no more than 20 degrees. a maximum of 3 days.
As practice shows, if you don’t remove the skin from the pumpkin and grease the pieces with vegetable oil, it will last much longer in the freezer. The fruit will not dry out over time.
Only fresh pumpkin can be frozen, preferably straight from the garden. Leaking and spoiled vegetables should not be frozen.
The pumpkin needs to be washed, skinned and peeled. Also remove the seeds from it along with the slippery inside. The result should be left only pulp.
The pumpkin can be frozen raw or blanched. If the pumpkin is defrosted, it is almost cooked but retains fewer vitamins. You can also boil or bake the vegetable in the oven.
Boiling helps to partially rid the store-bought fruit of nitrates.