How to Store Your Winter Squash

If you recall from posts I made late last spring, we had a bumper crop of buttercup and butternut squash.  We even got a few acorn squashes.  It was a beautiful thing.

Fast forward to now.  
Last week I went into my pantry to use a few of the buttercup squashes only to find that they had all become incredibly soft and that a soft, white mildew-y layer was growing all over them and all over the bin they were in.  Yuck.  Homestead fail.  
However, my loss is your gain.  I started researching to figure out what I had done wrong and how to fix it.  Luckily none of my butternut squash were affected but I did compost ALL of the buttercup squash.  Bummer. 
Harvesting for Storage
When you harvest your winter squash for storage, be sure to do the following: 
  • Wait until vines begin to dry and the rinds are hardened. 
  • Test the hardness of the rinds by pressing a thumbnail into the skin.  It shouldn’t leave a mark. 
  • Cut the squash from the vine leaving three inches of stem.

Here’s where I dropped the ball.  I did not cure my squash.  When you cure, do the following:
  • Place freshly picked squash in a warm area with good air circulation. 
  • Placing the squash on a screen is a good idea.  
  • Let it cure for 10-14 days. 
The reason for curing is to allow some of the excess water to escape, thus extending shelf life.  It also concentrates the sugars in the squash for a sweeter flavor.  Finally, it allows the skin to further harden for storage. 

Once cured, store your squash.
  • First, wipe it down with a vinegar and water solution to kill/remove any fungus spores (obviously I did not do this). 
  • Place it in a cool dry place – 55 degrees is perfect but not lower than 50. 
  • Allow for good air circulation. 
Length of Time
  • Acorn – , Delicata and Spaghetti – – Use within 1-2 months
  • Hubbard, Pumpkins and Buttercup – – Use within 4-5 months
  • Butternut – and Cushaws – These last a really long time and may last longer then 6-8 months if stored properly. 
How about you?  Do you have any other good tips and tricks for getting winter squash to last longer?

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