We planted over 20 acres of winter squash this year which means tons (literally) of winter squash are now making their way in from the fields. The first variety to make it to our CSA Shares is delicata, and then we move onto longer storing varieties like acorn, butternut, and sweet dumpling. Some of our members love winter squash season and eat it as soon as they get it. Others prefer to take a little break from squash now and then, and the good news is you can store squash for a long time in your home. Depending on how serious you want to get, you can just leave them on the counter or really prep them for long term storage. When prepped and checked on periodically squash will last months, and long after our CSA season ends. A good strategy as the season winds down is to use up the greens and items with a shorter shelf life first and store roots and squash for later. We also offer bulk boxes of winter squash to our CSA members, which can last well into winter. Our Winter CSA Share Boxes are 2 full bushel boxes packed to the brim with over 75 servings of organic veggies, including winter squash.
When we bring the squash in we let it “cure” in the sun on these warmer fall days. Curing the squash ensures that the water content will be just right for maximum storage life. I often store winter squash for a month or even longer on the kitchen counter in a basket. If you purchase a lot of winter squash or want to preserve them as long as possible, start by checking squash for any blemishes, nicks, etc. Use any less than perfect squash first. Wash any unblemished squash in a 4:1 solution of vinegar and water or a sink full of water with a tablespoon of bleach. Submerge the squash or dip a towel in the solution and wipe each squash off. Let the squash dry completely before storing.
The optimal temperature for storing squash is 50°F in a dark place. A lot of people use their garage or basement for this. A mudroom or coatroom can also work well. For optimal storage squash should not be touching, instead stored on a wire rack or loosely wrapped in paper and then nestled in a shallow box without a lid.
Turn and check your squash about once a week while they are stored. This will help you quickly catch any bad spots before they spread. Turning the squash also helps prevent bruising. Remove any damaged fruit from storage and use. Storage life varies by squash type and conditions, but in general delicata and acorn squash have the shortest storage life – about 4 weeks. Spaghetti and sweet dumpling go a little longer – 5 or 6 weeks, and butternut squash will last up to 6 months when properly stored! If this sounds like too much work, just remember they’ll keep on the counter for a while or you can just eat them as you get them!