Friday, December 16, 2011

How to Keep Cubed Butternut Squash From Spoiling

Oddly shaped butternut squash can be cubed ahead of time.

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Butternut squash resemble bowling pins when intact, but their flesh can easily be cut down to size for use in recipes after peeling and seeding the fruit. Like other squash varieties, butternut squash are technically fruits because they have seeds inside them. The best way to store them is whole, but you can save time by cubing and packaging squash ahead of time. Properly stored, your squash cubes will be ready when you are to make your next butternut squash-based recipe.

Related Searches: Refrigerating

Refrigerating cooked or uncooked butternut squash cubes is the simplest storage method that does not require special preparation of the squash cubes. Tightly wrap the cut squash in plastic wrap, then put it in a storage container to keep air and moisture out. This double barrier adds extra protection for the squash over using either covering alone. Kept in the refrigerator, the butternut squash cubes should remain fresh for up to five days, according to "Pumpkin and Squash: Recipes from Canada's Best Chefs" by Elaine Elliot.

Freezing

Freezing butternut squash keeps the cubes fresher longer, but you must cook the cubes before freezing them for best results. Unlike other fruits and vegetables that need only partial cooking before freezing, winter squash, like butternut, must be thoroughly cooked before freezing, recommends Daniel Gasteiger in "Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too: The Modern Step-By-Step Guide to Preserving Food." Cook the cubes, drain them and spread them on a cookie sheet to freeze until they are solid. Transfer the cubes to freezer bags. Freezing the cubes on the cookie sheet keeps individual pieces of squash from freezing together, so you can take as few or as many cubes as needed from the freezer bag. Your squash cubes will stay fresh in the freezer for up to six months.

Canning

Butternut squash cubes can be preserved in jars like fruit, but you cannot use the same method of canning you would with high-acid fruits. Butternut squash does not have a high enough acid content to be canned using a hot water bath, but with a pressure canner, you can successfully and safely preserve the cubed squash. Cook the squash cubes. Make sure not to mash or puree the cubes. Pack the cubes into jars and process in a pressure canner. The canned butternut squash will remain fresh at room temperature until you open the jar.

Drying

Butternut squash cubes can be dehydrated to prevent spoilage and reduce their bulk. Cook the cubes first before drying them. Use a food dehydrator and finely dice the squash into even-sized cubes. Spread the cubes on the trays of a dehydrator and dry for five to eight hours or until the squash cubes have shrunk and become crispy. Store the cubes in an airtight container in a cool, dry place until needed.

ReferencesPumpkin & Squash: Recipes from Canada's Best Chefs; Elaine Elliot and Virginia LeeYes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too: The Modern Step-By-Step Guide to Preserving Food; Daniel GasteigerUniversity of Florida: The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension: Preparing Pumpkins and Winter Squash: Cubed for CanningAnother Fork in the Trail: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for the Backcountry; Laurie Ann MarchPhoto Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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