Storing Winter Squash

| 1/15/2015 4:33:00 PM

Tags: squash, Douglas Stevenson, Tennessee,

Consider the flavorful and nutritious winter squash, a winter staple. It is important to know which types are the best keepers when choosing which varieties to grow. Butternuts are generally considered to have the best "shelf life" and I have successfully stored my favorites, the Seminole squash or pumpkin, for up to a full year, cooking up the last few to make room for the incoming harvest.

Ideally you want to leave your squash on the vine until they are fully mature, developing hard skins. When you press your thumbnail against the skin, it should not leave an impression or dent. However I have experienced success picking squash that were still slightly green on the eve of a frost and had them finish ripening in storage.

When harvesting your squash or pumpkins, leave 1 to 3 inches of stem. The stem will want snap away from the fruit, so always cut, don’t pull, the squash from the vines. Remember to never use the stem as a “handle” for carrying the fruits from the field. Although the squash "belly button" may dry and harden, it can also stay moist, oozing juices that can attract bacteria leading to rot. It is quite likely that you will end up with some fruits that have lost their stem, so plan to consume these first.

As you bring in your harvest, separate your Grade B, the ones without stem and any that have cuts or nicks in the skin, from those that qualify as Grade A. Any little scratch or cut provides an entrance for bacteria and rot. Always wash away the dirt, grime and mildew, before storing, and many "experts" suggest you wash your pumpkins and squash in a very mild chlorine bleach solution consisting of 2 TBS of bleach to one gallon of water.

11/14/2015 1:46:50 AM

Hanging a pallet from the rafters has worked well for our family. They get good air circulation and you can see underneath. It also increased storage space.

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