[Video] How to Harvest & Cure Winter Squash for Storage
Learn how to properly harvest and cure winter squash to enjoy all winter long…
It’s harvest time, and hopefully, you have some winter squash to pick this year! These delicious and long-lasting veggies are a great way to continue enjoying your harvest all through the winter. In this quick video, you’ll learn how to harvest and cure squash so it will last for months on the pantry shelf without any special storage method. Some types of squashes may last all the way until spring if stored properly – even without a root cellar or a basement.
When to Harvest and Store Winter Squash
In this video, you’ll learn when is the best time to harvest your winter squash, especially if you want to be able to use root cellaring techniques or just give your squash the longest shelf life possible.
As long as you don’t have a killing frost, it’s a good idea to leave winter squash on the vine as long as possible so that they can get fully mature. They’re easier to cure and store, and they will last much longer if they are fully mature before harvesting. You want the skin to be nice and hard for proper long-term storage.
However, you do want to go ahead and harvest your squash if you are going to get a hard freeze. Allowing your squash to freeze and thaw will greatly reduce its shelf life.
When it comes to storing your squash, you can store them anywhere in a controlled environment. Cooler temperatures will generally prolong their shelf life, so if you have a root cellar, a basement, or a garage where it doesn’t get below freezing, this would work well. However, even if you don’t have any of these, you can still successfully store your winter squash on a shelf in your kitchen or pantry.
Harvesting Winter Squash Properly for Preservation
You want to make sure when you’re harvesting your squash that you leave the stem on. If you break the stem off too close to the squash, it will allow oxygen to contact the flesh, which will make it start to break down faster. Leaving a good inch or two of stem on the squash will help to prolong its shelf life.
Once your squash is harvested, if they’re really dirty, you can spray them off with a hose, or wash them in the sink. Then, you will want to wipe them down to dry them and remove any remaining dirt, which may allow bacteria to grow and rot to set in from the outside.
How to Cure Winter Squash to Extend Shelf Life
Most types of winter squash have a long shelf life. For example, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, and kabocha squash should all keep for at least several months with proper storage. Pumpkins may only last a few weeks, so you will want to use these relatively quickly.
Once you have cleaned your squashes and let them dry, there’s one more special tip that can really help to preserve your squash for long-term storage… Follow the instructions in the video below to help remove any remaining dirt and bacteria that could trigger decay:
After that, you’ll just want to place your squashes somewhere out of the sun, but in a slightly warm area with good airflow. Let them set for a couple of weeks or so to allow the skin to fully cure and harden, and then you can move them into your designated storage area for the winter. Then you’ll just want to check them every few weeks for any signs of decay, but most of them should last quite a while into the winter.