Just to dispel any confusion: Spaghetti squash is not spaghetti (I know, I used to think so myself!) It’s actually a type of pumpkin that was selectively bred (also known as “cultivar”). According to some sources, the squash was originated in Manchuria, China, and brought to America in the 1930s. Its name comes from the fact that, when the squash is cooked, the flesh turns into long strings that are very similar to spaghetti, and, at times, it’s used as a substitute for traditional spaghetti. It’s also an amazing source of fiber, manganese, vitamins B6 and C, and a great number of antioxidants ready to fight free radicals and preserve your cells. As much as you like spaghetti squash, you may have bought too much in your latest grocery shopping. These questions may be hovering in your mind. Can you freeze spaghetti squash? Does it freeze well? How long does spaghetti squash last in the fridge?
Yes, you can freeze spaghetti squash. But it’s not as easy as pushing the squash in a freezer and hope for the best. The unfortunate fact is that raw spaghetti squash doesn’t freeze well. You will need to cook it first if you want to retain its texture and flavor. Freezing it raw will cause the flesh to disintegrate, owing to the water it contains turning into ice crystals and affecting its cellular structure.
The spaghetti squash will need to be cooked before freezing. There are various approaches, but the 2 main ones are baking and microwaving. The reason these are the most viable options is they can remove moisture from the squash more effectively.
It is recommended to dehydrate the squash first by slicing it into rings, removing the seeds at the center, and coating the rings with salt. After 20 minutes, remove the salt and remaining moisture by rubbing gently with a paper towel. After that, you can either preheat the oven to 400º F and bake the spaghetti squash for 30 minutes or use a microwave to bake the spaghetti squash for approximately 7 or 8 minutes. After they’ve been cooked, the fiber will start to separate from the hard shell as you scrap it with a fork. Place all that flesh in a strainer or colander (whatever works best) and use a paper towel in an attempt to remove moisture further. Then, wait for it to cool down. Next, place the cooked spaghetti squash in airtight freezer bags or containers (preferably in single-serving sizes) and, finally, stow them in the freezer.
If you freeze cooked spaghetti squash, you will be able to enjoy its flavor and texture with no discernible or significant difference. There is always a risk of mushiness, but it’ll be edible.
It’s not advisable to refreeze spaghetti squash if you thawed it outside the fridge, as the moisture created while defrosting will turn into ice crystals and compromise the consistency of the flesh. If the spaghetti squash was left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it’s better to consume it straight away.
The spaghetti squash should remain safe to eat within 7 days of fridge time, at a temperature of 40º F or lower. After that period, it’s better to discard it.
In the freezer, spaghetti squash can last about 8 months in optimal conditions. Beyond that timeframe, the flesh will start to suffer in quality.
Of course, the fridge is always the best and safest option to thaw most foods, and spaghetti squash is no exception. Just remove the container or bag from the freezer and let it defrost overnight in the refrigerator. You can alternatively immerse the sealed container or bag in cold water, making sure to change the water every 30-or-so minutes until fully defrosted (be careful not to allow water to leak inside). Lastly, using the microwave’s defrost function should do the trick quicker, but you need to use it immediately after thawing to avoid prolonged exposure to the infamous “Danger Zone” of temperatures between 40º F and 140º F.
You’ll be relieved to know that, theoretically, you can also cook the spaghetti squash from its frozen state, though thawing it first will guarantee the best results in many cases. However, if you are on a very tight schedule, you can reheat the frozen spaghetti squash directly in the microwave, on a stovetop, a steamer basket, or in an oven preheated to 350º F. Keep in mind that cooking times will be extended considerably if you skip the thawing process.