How to Store Winter Squash for Long-Term

How to Store Winter Squash for Long-Term

A ripe squash is easily detected; if your thumbnail cannot penetrate the skin, it is mature. But check the color first. If you test an immature squash and you do penetrate the skin, that squash will not store as long. There is no hurry to harvest winter squash and pumpkins; they cannot over-ripen on the vine. Just pick the mature fruit sometime before the first frost.

When you harvest the fruit, leave a few inches of stem attached, and handle with care. Just because they are large and tough looking does not mean they are invulnerable to rough handling.

Winter squash and pumpkins must be cured before they can be put into storage. This will dry and harden their skins. Ideally, they should be left to cure in a warm, well-ventilated place for about ten days. Look for a spot, perhaps on a sunny porch, or by a woodstove where the temperature ranges between 75 and 85°F.

Ideal storage conditions for these vegetables is in a cool, dry place, approximately 50°F., 50–70 percent humidity, with moderate air circulation. A basement or an attic with a fan might be just the thing. They should be set securely on shelves, not touching each other.

Outside storage might run the risk of freezing your vegetables, and inside the home where temperatures run above 55°F. will cause them to get stringy. Even under the best conditions pumpkins and winter squash will not stay perfect forever. Eventually the starch content will turn to sugar and the water content will increase. For this reason some people freeze, dry, can, or pickle some pumpkin or squash to use during the late winter months.