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Curing Winter Squash

February 11th, 2015

Several of you asked yesterday about how to cure winter squash so it would store for many months. First off you need to start with the right kind of squash. Different varieties of squash will store for different lengths of time. In general acorn, delicata and spaghetti squash will store for a few weeks to a month, winter squash and pumpkin will store for 4-6 months, butternuts will store the longest up to a year. I have stored squash for 18 months with success. In fact I cooked a pumpkin from last year just before I harvested my crop from this past season.
squash harvest 5
Squash must be cured if you want them to last a long time in storage. It’s fairly simple, just store them unwashed in a warm sunny place for 2 weeks. A greenhouse works well, as does a warm back porch. I like to put mine on the back porch which gets the afternoon sun and stays nice and warm.
squash harvest 1
Store squash in a cool area of the house, generally between 50-60 degrees works best. Squash are not like potatoes, apples, and other vegetables, they appreciate warmth. Make sure they have good air movement. My squash are often laid out in a corner of a cool bedroom and they store very nicely. I have also simply kept them in a corner of the dining room.
stack of pumpkins
There are a few other things you can do to ensure your winter squash will store for ages.

First, make sure they are ripe at harvest. They have a long growing season, select varieties that will ripen in the amount of time you have. Those of us that live in shorter season areas should select shorter season squash. Most seed companies will give you length till harvest, use these as a guide. Allow the vines to start to die and the skins to toughen before harvesting.

Second, cut, don’t rip the squash from the vines. You want to leave a nice piece of stem on the squash to help protect them. Avoid carrying your squash by the stem to make sure they remain attached.

Third, harvest squash before frost. Squash that has been left in the garden during a frost will not store as long as those harvested earlier.

Fourth, do not water or manure too much. Squash that was overwatered or over fertilized will not store as long. Feed and water them, but don’t get carried away. It’s better to have smaller squash that store longer.

pumpkin-in-the-oven
There you have it, a few tips to keep your winter squash fresh in the pantry all winter long.

Do you have any tips to share on growing, curing, and storing winter squash?

5 Comments to “Curing Winter Squash”
  1. Rhonda on February 11, 2015 at 7:18 am

    I see you have bits of green on the ends of your squash stems. What is that? Are they squash leaves? What does that do? I’m intrigued.

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

  2. Nebraska Dave on February 11, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Susy, I also wondered just how to cure and store squash and pumpkins. Even Zucchini will store for a few weeks or even a couple months after harvest. My pumpkins were just put under the kitchen table next to the wall and stored there for several months. Unfortunately, I never got ambitious enough to do any thing with the two I saved back from Halloween carving and they ended up in the compost pile. This year I’m on a mission to grow a giant pumpkin just for fun. I’m not sure if it will work in my area or not. I didn’t get the seeds to germinate last year but read up on how to do it for this year so here’s hoping to have one giant pumpkin.

    Have a great squash/pumpkin eating day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  3. Charlie@Seattle Trekker on February 11, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    I am introducing more edibles into the landscape each year so the timing of your information is just perfect.
    Charlie@Seattle Trekker´s last post ..Looking for Choices for a Difficult Landscape: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

    Reply to Charlie@Seattle Trekker's comment

  4. Becky on February 20, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Thank you so much for these tips!

    Reply to Becky's comment

  5. Julia at Home on 129 Acres on June 23, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. I just found your blog on the weekend, and I’m really enjoying reading your posts and learning from your experience. We’ve been at our place for three years, and we’re finally putting in our vegetable garden this year. We’ve planted a bunch of squashes, and your tips will be very helpful come harvest time.

    Reply to Julia at Home on 129 Acres's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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