Early fall is one of my favorite times of year. The weather is perfect, the leaves are changing and winter squash is in (inexpensive) abundance at local farms and farmers markets so I buy in bulk and save it to help our food budget all year.
I take the kids to several local “pick your own” type farms where you can pick your own pumpkins, apples and winter squash. We stock up on all of the above, but one of my favorites is large winter squashes like Cushaw squash.
Never heard of it? I hadn’t either and it is because it isn’t often found in a normal grocery store.
Our Favorite Winter Squash
A cushaw or cucurbita mixta is a green and white striped winter squash that can also produce a spring harvest. They can grow very large, sometimes over 20 pounds) and taste like a mixture between a pumpkin, acorn squash and summer squash (in my opinion).
This heirloom squash has been around for thousands of years and is a good source of Vitamin C. They are extremely tolerant to heat and the squash vine borer, which kills many other types of squash and pumpkins that aren’t sprayed with pesticides. For this reason, Cushaw are often organic or no-spray even if they aren’t certified (ask your farmer).
Since they are heirloom, cushaw seeds can be saved for planting and we’ve grown years worth of squash from the seeds of our very first one.
These squash are resilient after harvest and can be stored for up to four or five months without being cut. I have several 20+ pound Cushaws on my kitchen table right now, but I’ve also been working on freezing them for easy use.
Preserving cushaw squash is a simple process and pre-chopped and frozen squash is a great addition to a breakfast stir fry, to soups and stews, roasted in the oven or as a pumpkin substitute in pumpkin pie.
I hope that these age old squash make a comeback and become more common. If you are trying to feed your family real food on a tight budget, help the cause and buy a few of these to preserve and use all year round. Save the seeds and compost the peels and you have a no-waste, cost-effective real food.
I bought several really large (20+ pound) of these cushaw winter squashes at a local no-spray farm for $6 each and later found them at another farm for only $5.
After cutting them up, I was left with 12+ pounds of ready to use squash, making the total per pound $0.50 or less.
How to Cut a Cushaw to Preserve:
I found an easy way to cut and store these cushaw (or any other winter squash) and they can be put in a freezer bag and frozen. I’ve found that it isn’t even necessary to pre-freeze on a baking sheet to keep them from sticking together.
What I do:
Use a very sharp knife to (carefully) cut off the ends of the squash. Then, I cut off the neck in one large piece if it is straight, or several 5-6 inch pieces if it isn’t.
I then slice the rest of the wide part of the squash in 4-5 inch circles (see below) and scoop out the seeds.
TIP: Save the seeds by air drying them and use them to plant your own next year.
From here, I carefully cutting off the skin with the knife. I’ve found that this is much easier than peeling the squash with a peeler. Once all the skin has been removed, I cut the flesh of the squash into roughly 1/2 inch cubes and put in freezer bags.
NOTE: I used regular clear plastic bags in the picture to show the size of the squash pieces but I prefer to use these reusable freezer bags when possible.
I store these bags of squash in the fridge for up to a week, or the freezer for up to a year.
This method also works really well with butternut squash or any other winter squash that can be easily peeled. Acorn squash is more difficult to peel effectively, so I prefer to pre-roast these and scoop out the flesh and store that way.
Ever bought winter squash? If not- head out to a local farm or farmers market and find some of these ASAP! How do you use winter squash?
Discussion (17 Comments)
Katie, can you freeze spaghetti squash the same way?
Katie - Wellness Mama
Yes, but it may not keep it’s stringiness as well.
Winter squash can also be stored for months in a cool closet esp, butternut types. I had squash until April last season. Also squash crosses readily. it is insect pollinated and so unless you know for a fact that they taped off the blossoms to avoid crossing or only planted only one variety of squash in a huge area (bees travel up to five miles), you have no way of knowing whether you will get that exact squash if you plant it next year. Most likely you will end up w/ a mutant that may taste good but may not.
This is great! I’ve always cooked my squash to preserve it but then I am stuck using it in that form (especially if I blended it thinking I would want pie and then changed my mind). I am also really glad for the seed saving tip! I have been building up my seed collection this season but wasn’t sure how to do squash.
when i take the squash out do i thaw it in the fridge & then cook it as i normally would? thank you.
I have four different squash varieties on my table too. two are very small and only cost one dollar. it was worth a try. I never thought of freezing them. Thank you so much. I appreciate the helpful hints. My food bill has increased since we started eating healthier.
Tiffany, I been wondering the same thing! Dying to make all our favorite pumpkin recipes with the kids. Our favorite pumpkin muffins, pancakes, cultured cream cheese cake and my daughter’s fav pumpkin latte’s! /drool.
Worried about buying up store bought pumpkin’s for same reason as you! We have not located a reliable no spray farm as of yet and so am buzzing in my brain about it lol.
Katie! Love your blog here and thank you for sharing your life and priceless good news and recipes! Humbly, Ary
I’m storing some pumpkins away today. I do usually freeze them in little chunks like this post but I also like to just pull out some ready-made pumpkin for soup and pie. I put the whole pumpkin in my oven, baked it, skinned it and put the baked squash into freezer bags. Pretty easy as well.
I bought about 10 small pumpkins from a local farmer’s market and they only charged half the cost of pumpkins at the store. Could be worth the visit to see if there are some good deals on pumpkins!
Thanks for the tip. Anyone know if you can eat carving pumpkins? Or should they be avoided for GMOs and pesticides?
I wondered before if it must be blanched before freezing, so you showed me it is simply cut and freeze. Thanks ~ that cuts a lot of time and makes it much simpler!
yum! Never tried Cushaw squash, definitely looking forward to it!
I love squash..but have never thought about putting in the freezer ! I am going to do this for sure . It gets very expensive to buy in the winter time . Thanks for the tip !