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Winter Squash- storage tips and recipes

Winter Squash

*This page features information and tips for winter squashes in general. For recipes for specific squashes

(Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Pumpkins, and Spaghetti Squash), click on the individual pages under the

&quot;Winter Squash&quot; tab on the left-hand navigation*


A few general rules apply to winter squash storage:  A broken stem exposes the fruit to rot, so don’t use

the stem as a “handle” for carrying.  Take care to protect the fruits from cuts, scrapes, and dents, as all

can lead to early spoilage.


Unlike tender-skinned summer squashes, which must be eaten within a few days of harvest, some

winter squashes can last up to 6 months in storage. Store cured squashes in a room that is dry and

cool—but no cooler than 50°F—and make sure they have good air circulation.


Thinner-skinned types such as acorn and spaghetti squashes should be used within a month or two of

harvest. Butternuts keep best in storage, sometimes lasting until spring.


Winter squash like butternut and acorn matures on the vine and develops an inedible, thick, hard rind

and tough seeds. The tough skin that allows for lengthy storage can be a challenge when it’s time to

prepare a squash for eating. If your heftiest kitchen knife fails, reach for a hacksaw.  As you prepare a

winter squash for cooking and scoop away its stringy insides, you may be tempted to save and dry a few

seeds for next year’s garden. But since we grew more than one type of squash and left their pollination

up to the bees, it’s quite likely that the next generation will be nothing but mongrels. A better choice is

to soak the seeds in salt water then roast them in the oven til golden brown and tasty.


Ideally, only cut or cooked squash should be refrigerated. They will suffer chill damage at temperatures

below 50 degrees F. Once cut, wrap raw pieces in plastic wrap, refrigerate, and use within four days.


For acorn, butternut and buttercup squashes, store in a cool, dry place (45-50°F). To prepare, peel

squash and cut into cubes and place on a baking dish. Roast at 375°F for 30 minutes. Serve with butter

and herbs or brown sugar and dried fruit.


Acorn and butternut squash are frequently cut in half, baked, and served in the shell. To cut in half,

grasp the squash firmly and use a sharp knife to slice through to the center. Then flip and cut the other

side until the squash falls open. Remove and discard the seeds. Using a whole (1 to 1 1/2 pound) winter

squash, pierce the rind with a fork and bake in a 350-degree oven 45 minutes.


To Microwave: Place halves or quarters, cut side down, in a shallow dish; add 1/4 cup water. Cover

tightly and microwave on HIGH 6 minutes per pound. Whole Squash - Poke squash all over with a fork.

Microwave the squash at full power (High) approximately 5 to 10 minutes (depending on size of squash).


Testing Squash for Doneness: Test for doneness by piercing with a fork. Fork should easily pierce peel

and flesh. Let sit until cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds (if needed), and

proceed with recipe or eat.


A sturdy knife to slice winter squash in half is a necessity. To make the squash easier to cut, pierce the

skin in a few spots, place it in a microwave oven and heat on high for 2 minutes. Let stand for another

few minutes before carving. When halving, cut through the stem end to the point rather than across the

diameter. To prevent halves from rocking on the baking tray, cut a small slice off the bottom to flatten it.



Avoid boiling squash. Boiling damages both the flavor and the texture. Squash can also be cooked

whole. Pierce the skin in several places. Place on a baking sheet in 350-degree F. oven for about 1-1/2

hours. Squeeze the squash to test for doneness. When it yields to gentle pressure, it&#39;s done. You can

then cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and serve or cool and use the cooked innards.


Before freezing, squash must be cooked. Cook squash and remove the pulp from the skin. You can leave

it in chunks or mash it. Place in airtight containers and freeze ten to twelve months at 0 degrees F.


Winter squash seeds can be toasted on a cookie sheet in the oven at a low temperature (325 for about

an hour.) Be sure to stir them often and watch for burning. Some prefer to soak the seeds in salt water

before toasting. Shelled pumpkin seeds can be used as a less expensive alternative to pine nuts in




Roasted Winter Squash Seeds                                                 

Recipe from allrecipes.com

Prep Time: 10 Minutes       Cook Time: 15 Minutes      Servings: 4

&quot;Pumpkins aren&#39;t the only squash that yield tasty seeds for roasting! Next time you prepare butternut or

acorn squash save the seeds and have yourself a nutritious little snack.&quot;



1 cup winter squash seeds

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste



1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or

aluminum foil.

2. After removing the seeds from the squash, rinse with water, and remove any strings and bits of

squash. Pat dry, and place in a small bowl. Stir the olive oil and salt into the seeds until evenly coated.

Spread out in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.

3. Bake for 15 minutes, or until seeds start to pop. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheet

before serving.


Roasted Pumpkin or Winter Squash



5 pounds (2 to 3) pumpkin or winter squash, halved and seeded

Vegetable oil for coating



Preheat the oven to 400° F. Brush the cut sides of the pumpkins with oil. Place the halves, cut side down,

in a baking pan and roast for 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender when pierced with a knife. (This

varies widely depending on the squash variety. A delicata may cook in 35 minutes while a butternut or

kabocha can take 1 hour.) Using a spoon, scrape the flesh into a

bowl and discard the skins.

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