Looking to store your winter squash bounty? These tips are for squash with hard rinds. (Note that delicata squash do not store well due to their tender skins. Eat them right away.)
Select only unblemished fruits for storage. Be careful with the stems! Rot usually starts at the stem, so it must be protected from damage.
Cut the vine, not the stem, when harvesting and hold the bottom, not the convenient handle on top.
Wipe off any dirt and cure the squash for seven to 10 days in a sunny, airy spot, such as an outdoor picnic table or even on newspapers on your sidewalk. Turn occasionally to sun all sides. This will harden the rind and increase storage time.
Sanitize by wiping or spraying one (just one!) of these mixtures to eliminate microbes that cause rot:
- 2 tbsp. bleach per gallon water, or
- A 1-to-4 solution of vinegar and water, or
- A 1-to-1 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water.
Then wipe or air dry.
Some squash growers then coat the squash with a very small amount of vegetable oil. Wipe off any excess with a paper towel. The squash should not be greasy, just barely shiny. This creates a barrier to keep the squash from drying out.
Store in a cool, dark, and dry area. 50–60°F is ideal. Lightly packing the squash in crumpled newspaper will help cushion them and absorb extra humidity while not impeding air flow. Check the squash every week or so to make sure they remain sound.
Enjoy your squash all winter!