Roasting squash usually means having to babysit the oven for an hour or more, but not if you do it in the crockpot. Follow these simple steps for perfectly roasted squash, minus all the hands-on time.
How to Roast Squash in a Crockpot
Optional: butter & cinnamon
What You Do:
Rinse off the squash, and pat dry. Then, cut them in half, and scoop out all the seeds. Now, cut them into smaller wedges (this will allow you to get more into your crockpot). I used acorn squash, but this will work just as well with butternut squash, pumpkin or whatever winter squash you happen to have.
Layer the squash wedges in your crockpot, with the flesh facing up. Then, cover, and cook on high for two to four hours. Cook it for less time if you want to be able to cube your roasted squash. Cook it longer, if you plan to puree it.
The squash is done when the flesh is easy to break up with a fork.
Serve your roasted squash with a bit of butter and cinnamon for a delicious side dish, or if you plan to use your squash for puree, allow it cool slightly. Then, scoop out all the flesh, and run it through a food processor or blender.
Squash tends to have a high water content, so I always drain my puree before I use it. If you skip this step, whatever recipe you use it in could end up a watery mess.
To drain my puree, I line a colander with a paint strainer bag from the hardware store. Then, I stick the colander over a large mixing bowl, and pour my puree into the strainer bag. This allows the extra water to drip down into the mixing bowl. I stick the whole contraption in the refrigerator over night. The puree is ready to use in the morning. Sometimes there’s lots of water in the mixing bowl. Other times there’s hardly any at all. It just depends on how rainy the growing season was.
I used to line my colander with a double layer of cheesecloth – and you can definitely do that – but I’ve found that a paint strainer bag is much easier to clean, and it doesn’t wear out as fast as cheesecloth. It also has a tighter weave than cheesecloth, so it does a better job of containing your puree. A fine mesh laundry bag would also work, if you aren’t able to find a paint strainer bag.
Squash puree is a staple at my house, so we make loads of it, and freeze it to use throughout the year. Since most recipes call for those store-bought 15-oz cans of puree, we freeze it in pint freezer jars. One jar of our homemade puree is the equivalent of one can of store-bought. If you’re making a recipe that calls for a certain number of cups of puree, a pint jar holds two cups.
When I manage to plan meals ahead, I stick jars of puree in the fridge to thaw. If I’m making dinner on the fly, I just thaw it in the microwave. 18 minutes on speed defrost seems to do it in my microwave.
Note: While squash puree can be frozen for later use, it’s not safe to can at home.
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