How to Freeze an Acorn Squash and Save Its Seeds

How to freeze and cook an acorn squash, and how to save its seeds to plant in next year's garden.

The last produce to come out of my garden this fall were the squash. The only variety I was able to grow this year was spaghetti squash, but we supplemented those with a few butternut and acorn squash that we purchased.

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As we were preparing to head out of town to visit family for a week, I noticed that the last acorn squash was a bit soft and realized that I'd better do something with it fast or it would be a mushy pile of fruit flies by the time we got back home.

Winter squash (which is what an acorn squash is) can be blanched and then pressure-canned in cubes. 

Squash can also be dehydrated in cubes or strips: steam them first for about 7 minutes, then dehydrate at 125° to 135°F for 7-10 hours. 

Both methods were too time-consuming for my situation. With little time to spare I decided I'd freeze this acorn squash.

How to Freeze Acorn Squash

How to freeze and cook an acorn squash, and how to save its seeds to plant in next year's garden.

Freezing acorn squash is very easy. The hardest part about working with an acorn squash is the ribs. It's not a smooth skin that's easy to peel. But there is a way to work around the ribs, and it's not difficult.

Cutting and peeling the squash

Begin by cutting the squash in half. Remove the seeds and set them aside in a bowl; we'll get back to them in a few minutes. Cut the peel off both ends of the squash, the blossom end and the end with the stem, using a sharp knife.

An acorn squash has a softer skin than other winter squashes so it isn't as difficult to cut it in half and cut off the ends. Doing this to a thick-skinned squash is a battle but acorn squash are pleasant in comparison.

Now that you have two manageable halves, cut the squash along the "valleys" so that you have wedges of squash.

The wedges remind me of cutting a cantaloupe, and the flesh is even the same color. 

At this point you can use a paring knife or a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. I used my mother's vegetable peeler.

How to peel an acorn squash.

I hope someday I can find a new peeler that is this same shape and style because I really like it better than any other I've used. It's the vegetable peeler I used to peel carrots for dinner when Mom let me help in the kitchen, which honestly wasn't very often.

It's also the one that my daughters used to peel carrots when they helped in Grandma's kitchen. 

When my oldest was four years old and I reminded her to be careful not to cut her fingers with the sharp peeler, she said "if you peel your skin off, all your insides can fall out."

Yes, lots of memories in this old gadget.

How to peel an acorn squash.

How to cook an acorn squash.

Chop into cubes

Now that you have orange wedges of squash - which coincidentally do have their skin peeled off - chop them into cubes that are relatively the same size.

Now they really resemble cantaloupe. Resist tasting them though, because they do not taste like cantaloupe. Trust me.

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Freeze the cubes of squash

Line a cookie sheet or baking dish with waxed paper and lay out the squash cubes in a single layer, and place the cookie sheet in the freezer for several hours until the squash is frozen. 

Remove the waxed paper and squash cubes from the cookie sheet, then peel off the waxed paper.

If you have more than will fit in a single layer, cover the bottom layer with another piece of waxed paper and add a second layer. 

Obviously a deeper baking dish will work better than a cookie sheet if you have more than one layer.

How to freeze an acorn squash.

If you run into any resistance when you remove the cubes from the waxed paper, let them sit on the counter for just a few minutes. Just a few minutes, so that they will thaw a tiny bit and be easy to remove.

Place the frozen cubes into a freezer bag, label and date it, and place in the freezer until you're ready to have squash for dinner. 

Acorn squash should last about ten months in your freezer.

How to Cook Frozen Acorn Squash

When squash is on the menu, you can choose between boiling, steaming or roasting your frozen squash. Do not thaw it before cooking.

To boil, cover your frozen squash cubes with about an inch of boiling water. Cover the pan and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the cubes are tender. Drain well and season with salt and pepper before serving.

To steam squash, add the frozen cubes to a steamer basket set in 1/2-inch of water in a saucepan. Cover the pan and heat the water to boiling, then reduce the heat to low and steam until the cubes are tender.

To roast frozen acorn squash, toss the cubes in a bowl with enough olive oil to coat them lightly. Add herbs and seasonings (try parsley, rosemary or sage, or a combination of nutmeg and cinnamon) and toss until the seasonings are well-distributed.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and place the squash in a single layer in a large glass baking dish. Roast the squash until the cubes are brown on the outside and hot in the middle. 

This will take about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the cubes. Larger cubes will, of course, take longer to cook.

How to Save Seeds from Acorn Squash

How to save seeds from an acorn squash.

Did you save the seeds from the squash when you cut it open? You can preserve those seeds and plant them in your garden next spring.

You'll want to save seeds from heirloom squash, not hybrid varieties which won't grow true to the parent squash. 

Check your seed packet to see which type you are growing, or check the plastic tag that came with the squash seedlings you bought. 

If you purchase squash from a farmers market, ask the seller what variety he or she grows and if it's an heirloom or hybrid type.

Beware of cross-pollination

Squash are easily cross-pollinated by other varieties of squash. Winter and summer squash and pumpkins can all cross-pollinate with each other.

This won't affect the squash that you eat, but it will affect the seeds if you want to grow them next year.

There are ways to discourage cross-pollination. One of the easiest is planting varieties of squash several weeks apart. One variety should have finished blooming by the time the next type begins to bloom.

Find more ways to avoid cross-pollination in this article by Dave's Garden.

Preparing the seeds

To process the seeds for planting next year, remove the seeds from the squash and wash them, removing flesh and strings. 

Lay the seeds in a single layer on a screen or a paper towel and allow them to dry completely in a dry place out of direct sunlight. Allow a week or so for them to dry.

Acorn squash seeds

I've found that the seeds are pretty well stuck to that paper towel when they're dry, so I'm now using a window screen instead. 

Remove the seeds from the screen when they're dry and store them in an envelope labeled with the variety of seed and the date. Store in a cool, dry place. 

Acorn squash seeds can be viable for up to six years.

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Do you want more recipes for squash? Check out this post: How to Use All That Winter Squash.

How to freeze and cook an acorn squash, and how to save its seeds to plant in next year's garden.

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