Butternut squash is an amazing winter vegetable that can be used to add rich, creamy goodness to your meals. Due to their large size, you will probably not use a whole squash for one dish unless you cook for an army. Do not worry! They are super easy to store!
You have several options to choose from when it comes to storing butternut squash. You can actually leave it, without cutting it, in a dark pantry until you are ready to use it. You can also peel it and refrigerate it, or you can freeze it.
With so many storage options to choose from, you should have no problems getting the most out of your butternut squash, but we will also give you some tips on how to tell if it has gone bad and some mistakes to avoid as well. Let’s learn how to store butternut squash!
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How to Store Butternut Squash Properly
If you are growing your own butternut squash and you have several that are ready at the same time, you can find a dry, dark place in your pantry and store them fresh out of the garden. Before you store your squash, you need to “cure” it first.
It would be best if you washed the outside off to remove any dirt or pesticides that may still be there on the surface before you cure and store it.
Curing Butternut Squash
Curing a squash is similar to how we “cure” or heal our bodies after we have scraped or cut ourselves. While your squash is still growing on the vine, out in the wild, it can get some cuts and scrapes along the way. To make sure your squash does not spoil while in storage, you need to give it time to cure.
We recommend finding a nice sunny or warm spot inside so that the squash does not get further damaged while it is curing. Leave it in this warm place for about ten days, then examine the outside.
If you do not see any scrapes, scratches, or cuts on the surface that insects could crawl in, you are ready to store it in your pantry.
Refrigerating Butternut Squash
If you choose to refrigerate your butternut squash, remove the stem. Then you will need to remove the skin. The easiest way to remove the skin is with a vegetable peeler like you would for smaller things like potatoes and carrots.
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Once you have removed the skin, you can cut it into smaller pieces, any size that you like. Remove the seeds and store the squash in an airtight container in the fridge.
Freezing Butternut Squash
If you decide to freeze your squash, you have two options. You can store it just like you would in the fridge, but make sure it is in a freezer-safe container or bag. Or you can cook it first and store it.
To cook it, you can bake it, boil it, or steam it for the best results. Drain off any excess liquid before freezing it. You may also want to puree it before you put it in the freezer because it will be easier to stack if you put it in freezer bags, and it will take up less space.
How Long Can Butternut Squash Be Stored?
If you properly cure your butternut squash, it can remain fresh for up to six months in the right environment. If you want it to last that long, do not skip the curing process! It is crucial!
For uncooked squash in the refrigerator, it should be good to eat for five days. If you cook it before putting it in the fridge, it can last for up to a week.
In the freezer, both cooked and uncooked butternut squash should be fresh for at least three to six months if it does not get freezer burn.
How to Tell if Butternut Squash Has Gone Bad
Butternut squash, like most foods, is pretty easy to tell if it has gone bad. If you can see that it has started rotting, do not eat it. If it has a funny smell, whether it has been cooked or not, it is not safe to eat.
If there is mold growing on it, especially at the stem, near an opening in the skin, or on the fleshy part you would eat, do not eat it. In fact, if there is mold anywhere on your squash, even if it is only on the stem or the skin (parts you do not eat), do not eat it because mold produces spores that could contaminate the whole squash.
Mistakes to Avoid When Storing Butternut Squash
It is kind of difficult to mess up when it comes to storing butternut squash, but mistakes can happen. Here are a few of the most common to try to avoid:
Storing Squash Near Fruits that are Ripening
As fruits ripen, they produce something called ethanol. This is an invisible gas. It is not harmful to humans, but it can cause other foods to spoil faster if they are already ripened. Bananas are especially dangerous for other fruits and vegetables. That is why it is recommended that they are stored on their own.
Skipping the Curing Period
Sometimes it may seem easier to put the squash in the pantry right after you bring it inside and wash it. However, there may be tiny abrasions on your squash that you cannot see due to the textured coloring of the skin.
To improve your odds of making your squash last in storage, do not, we repeat, DO NOT SKIP THE CURING PERIOD! It is 100% necessary to make sure your squash does not spoil while in storage. It can also help you to avoid a nasty, unwanted swarm of fruit flies or other insects that are attracted to rotting food.
Keep Your Butternut Squash Fresh
Butternut squash may be enormous, but they are worth growing or buying and learning how to properly store because they can be used to make a delicious homemade butternut squash soup that will have everyone wanting more. Plus, they are not difficult to grow, and they are easy to store!