Question: How do I preserve squash and pumpkin?
Answer: Winter squash and pumpkins are easy to save in a cool dry space without any special techniques. Let them cure in the sun or a warm room for 2 weeks, and then wipe them down with a mild bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to 1 gallon cold water). Store them in a single layer, not touching each other, at 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for up to three months.
You can also cook, purée, and freeze pumpkins and squash in airtight containers. Drying works too. The old-fashioned way is to scoop out the seeds, slice into 1-inch rings, peel, thread on a dowel, and hang by a woodstove. Dried squashes have to be cooked twice to rehydrate and use in recipes. I prefer making pumpkin pie leather. Fully cook and purée your squash or pumpkin, sweeten and season it like your favorite pumpkin pie, and then dry the purée for 8 to 24 hours until it’s leathery.
If you want to can pumpkins and squash, only pressure canning will work. Peel, seed, cut into 1-inch cubes, and then boil in water for 2 minutes. Scoop into 1-quart jars, and then add boiling water to cover, leaving a 1-inch headspace. Then, can at 10 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes.
-Andrea Chesman, food preservation expert
If you’d like to present a question for our expert panel to answer in print, email your question to Letters@HeirloomGardener.com with the subject line “sage advice.”