Freezing pumpkin for the winter and how to prepare a delicious dish from it?
As a rule, pumpkin is a fairly large product that is considered 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 in the form of mashed potatoes
According to many reviews, the most delicious pumpkin puree for freezing for the winter comes from the roasted vegetable. To bake the pumpkin it is not even necessary to free the skin. Simply cut the vegetable in two parts and remove all the seeds. If the fruits are small, they can be baked directly in halves. Otherwise cut each half 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. After cooling, the flesh is easily scraped out of the rind with an iron spoon and mashed in a blender.
If there is no oven, the pumpkin slices in their skin can be boiled beforehand.
Either way, about 40 to 50 minutes extra time is needed. Then the pulp, once cooled, is also easily separated from the skin and puréed with a fork, pusher or blender.
Pumpkin puree is best placed in small containers or molds for freezing ice. In this case, place them in the freezer, wait for them to freeze, then remove them from their molds or containers and transfer them to tight polyethylene 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 baked pumpkin puree is a great addition to the diet of children. It can also be added to a variety of baked goods, making caviar, cutlets, soufflés and jam. Pumpkin puree is used to make kissel and a variety of drinks, such as smoothies.
Since ancient times the gardeners have valued the unique pumpkin fruit for its beneficial properties, excellent taste and exterior beauty. It contains a whole arsenal of vital elements for the body:
Therefore, sensible hostesses try to serve the fruit to the family meal as often as possible. Often they wonder whether they can freeze the pumpkin for storage, so they can prepare various dishes with it in winter. Experienced cooks confirm the effectiveness of this method. The main thing is to make preparations according to the accepted rules.
To prevent the slices of the vegetable from sticking together during storage, they should be placed in small slices or containers. It is much more convenient to use the product for cooking.
There are several options for freezing the bright vegetable for the winter, which are practiced by true connoisseurs of the useful fruit. Some housewives cut it into slices, put it in cellophane bags, and then place it in the freezer. Unfortunately, the product turns out watery and is suitable only for making mashed potatoes. Experts advise freezing pumpkin for the winter in three variations:
This approach allows you to determine in advance what purpose the semi-finished product will be used for:
When the goal is set, you can begin freezing pumpkin for the winter at home and the first step is the preparations.
The right fruit is the key to success
First choose a fairly ripe product of any variety. It must meet the requirements:
- small size;
- elongated shape;
- without visible cracks;
- Absence of darkening;
- no dents;
- dry sprout;
- The bright orange color of the flesh;
- pleasant aroma.
Then it is thoroughly washed under running water to eliminate any soil or debris. With a sharp knife the vegetable is cut in half. Remove the seeds and the fibrous pulp. Use a kitchen towel or cloth to wipe the resulting craters.
The seeds should preferably be washed and dried and eaten raw on an empty stomach. This is a wonderful method of worm control.
Ways of cutting the raw product
Depending on the chosen method of preserving, make the slicing. Some hostesses have doubts: can you freeze pumpkin with the peel to increase the volume of the product. Experienced cooks have noticed that in raw form it is very tough, so it is better to remove it. To do this, the pumpkin is cut into several pieces and carefully peeled. Then shred it:
Each hostess chooses an option that suits her winter menu.
Container and packing
Not a minor role in long-term storage is played by the container. Most often use the containers at hand:
Any suitable sized container may be used. When filling mashed potatoes, the bag is placed in a plastic bucket for convenience, and only then is it filled. Then vents the bag, taking care to leave some space, and ties it up. Take out of the bucket and give the bag a flat shape. This shape promotes quick freezing and compact storage. Also for pre-freezing mashed potatoes are used:
How to properly defrost a pumpkin
According to exactly how the vegetable was frozen, there are several ways to defrost it:
- Freshly frozen pumpkin is ready to use as soon as you remove it from the freezer. Bring water, broth or milk to the boil, then immerse the pumpkin slices in the liquid.
- Grate the half-finished product into hot lunches and add it at the end of cooking. Do not defrost without defrosting if you plan to add the product to desserts (for example, in a filling for pancakes).
- The baked fruit is also added only at the end of cooking, since it is almost a finished dish.
- Puree requires defrosting beforehand. To speed up the thawing process, use the microwave or refrigerator. In the first case, the defrosting process takes 2 to 3 minutes until soft. Mashed potatoes transferred to the refrigerator will be ready to use in an hour.
- If you decide to use the half-finished product for cooking, send it to boil in frozen form.
How to use raw pumpkin after defrosting. Defrosting rules
The optimal way is to further heat the vegetable:
- Add pulp to soups and puree soups.
- Braise cubes as a garnish to meat and fish.
- Boil the flesh for warm salads.
- Add defrosting while cooking porridge, oatmeal, semolina, etc. д.
- Use pumpkin slices for desserts. This could be a pie with pumpkin and apple, simply baked pumpkin in sugar or honey, cottage cheese casserole and other homemade sweets.
Tip: Dice the vegetable for desserts and casseroles, grate or finely chop it for fritters, and cut it into chunks of 2-3 cm for soups and porridge. Have different kinds of cuts stored in the freezer for all sorts of dishes.
Proper defrosting is just as important as freezing: if left to thaw slowly, the pumpkin will spoil and become unpleasantly watery. Immediately after removing the vegetable from the freezer, put it in a pan, oven, or pot of boiling water/broth. Often pumpkin chunks are added to a multi ingredient dish. The orange vegetable is the last to be introduced.
Freezing whole fresh pumpkins
Yes, freezing whole pumpkins is possible and even incredibly beneficial for storage. You do not need to process 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 a tail torn off.
How to Store Pumpkin in Freezer
How long can you keep pumpkin in the freezer?
Opinions are divided here. Some say you can store 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) can withstand freezing better than grated pumpkin, let alone mashed pumpkin. That is, freezing the puree should be no more than 3 months. In this case, you can still be sure that the flavor 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 the pumpkin puree for several months, strain it with a fine sieve, for example. Why? This way you will remove excess moisture and make the mashed potatoes 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 process of freezing with your own hands
In order to carry out the making for the winter, you will need:
- cutting board;
- sharp knife;
- Plastic containers for mashed potatoes (special containers, jars from under dairy products or ordinary plastic cups);
- Plastic bags (regular or with a slider).
When all the necessary things are at hand, you need to process the vegetable before determining it for long-term storage.
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Preparing the raw materials
To keep frozen pumpkin better preserved at home during the winter, you need to choose ripe fruit of oblong oval shape of nutmeg varieties with bright orange juicy flesh. Selected specimens should be washed under running water, wiped with a cloth and left to sit until completely dry, then peeled of the hard rind.
The most convenient way to peel. cut off the tops, put the vegetable horizontally on the table and peel from the skin with a sharp knife. The pumpkin, cut in two pieces, is carefully cleaned of seeds and inedible core.
It is recommended to chop the pulp in large pieces and dry it in the oven, which will make the mass sweeter, tastier and less watery, which will help you to save space in the freezer. The seeds can be dried in the oven, too, without throwing them away. The fruit is obtained as a tasty and healthy delicacy.
Freezing it as puree
Cut the vegetable into medium sized pieces. Do not peel off the skin. They are placed on a baking tray and put in a preheated oven. Bake on low heat for about an hour. Check readiness by piercing the pieces with a fork. When well baked, the flesh becomes soft.
The baked vegetable can be easily detached from its skin. The fruit is cleaned and beating in a blender to the consistency of a thick homogeneous purée. Portion the pieces into containers prepared in advance, cover with clingfilm (if there are no lids) and put them into the freezer for freezing.
This method is useful for those who have small children. Using this method, the pumpkin is usually frozen for baby food and even for the preparation of the first complementary food, combining the product with other vegetable mixtures.
Freezing after blanching
This method will help to optimally preserve the flavor and all the nutritional properties of the pumpkin. Using this method you do not need to peel the vegetable. Cut the chosen pieces into pieces, and then blanch them in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Afterwards, immerse in very cold water for about the same amount of time. For convenience, you can do this 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 separate pieces 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 put the pieces in it. After freezing, they are carefully packed in portions into bags and sent back to the freezer for storing for the winter.
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Freezing after shredding on a grater
The vegetable is cut into medium sized chunks, 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 gently to flatten them and put them in the freezer.
Frozen in this way pumpkin is usually used for casseroles, soups, as a filling for pumpkin pie and even cooked kissel.
Freezing in chunks
How to freeze chopped pumpkin properly? It is necessary to cut the fruit into bars and cubes. their size depends on what dish the semi-finished product is intended for:
- If you intend to use the stuffing in baking, chop in smaller pieces;
- If the pumpkin is intended for boiling. in larger pieces.
Keep in mind that the slices of pumpkin to be stored together should be about the same size. Then they are spread out on some kitchen surface and allowed to dry out a little from excess moisture. Pre-freeze in the same way as blanched pumpkin. Then packaged in bags in single portions.
Press the bags down slightly, giving them a flat shape, and put them in the freezer. This method is perfect for preparing various milk porridges. rice, millet and even semolina.
How long do you store pumpkins?
Sliced fruit can be kept from a couple of days to a year. The time depends directly on the conditions created:
- Product placed in refrigerator unpacked. up to 3 days.
- Packaged product placed in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks.
- The vegetable can be kept in the freezer for up to 12 months. The amount of time depends on the refrigeration and power level. If space does not allow, you can cut the vegetable into small pieces, remove the skin and rind, grate it on a coarse grater and pack it. The cooking process weakens the flavor, but it is perfect for stewing.
- At room temperature, no more than 20 degrees. maximum 3 days.
As practice shows, if you do not 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.