Storing Winter Squash
By Katie Hoffman
It’s that time of year when gorgeous winter squashes are widely available. If you love them, you can buy now and enjoy them almost all winter! Many will last from two to four months when properly cured and stored.
Delicata and spaghetti squash shouldn’t be cured at all. They’ll last two or three months in storage, so you should plan to eat those first. Hubbards and butternuts, on the other hand, are great keepers and will last 5 to 8 months under the right conditions.
Interested in giving winter squash storage a try? Here are a few tips that will help you prolong your stash:
Make certain your squash are properly “cured.” If you’re purchasing from a producer, ask whether they’ve been cured for storage. If so, you’re ahead of the game. If not, then you can do it yourself. Just leave the squash in a sunny, warm (80 to 85 degree) place for about 10 days. When your fingernail won’t cut the skin, the squash is ready for storage.
Store the squash in a single layer. You can use a basket or box of any kind—something breathable will help them store the longest. Place the squash in the box with crumpled paper between them to keep them from touching. Store only unblemished squash—you can preserve any with broken skins by freezing (but that’s a different blog entry!).
Keep the space cool and dark. Winter squash will store best between 50 and 55 degrees. If you can, keep the humidity at about 60%. Before I had a basement, I used to keep mine in a seldom-used guest room with the door closed.
If you’re unsure about whether your squash needs to be cured or how long it will last, Google it! Charts abound on the internet, so it won’t take you long to discover what you need to know.
Winter squash are delicious and nutritious, and with a little care you can enjoy the pies, soups, and other dishes to which they add their beautiful flavor and color. This is the time of year when many of our producers have winter squash on their buying pages.