Squash is a staple in the diet of many cultures around the world. As healthier diets become more common, it has become an even more popular ingredient to substitute and build recipes around. You may be wondering how you can store your squash for convenient use in your dishes throughout the week or months. We have thoroughly researched this topic and have found some ways you can keep your squash on hand longer.
The best way to store whole winter squash is in a cool, dark environment. You should store a whole summer squash in the lowest humidity part of your fridge. Be mindful to store both types away from items like onions and apples that emit gases, speeding decay. Depending on what you intend on using the squash for, other methods of storing squash include the following:
- Store winter squash on the counter
- Cure freshly picked winter squash
- Make refrigerator pickles from both summer and winter squash
- Blanch and freeze squash
- Puree and freeze squash
We know that's quite a list of ways to preserve a squash! We'll discuss each method and the reasons you might use them. Keep reading as we break down the shelf life of each method and some interesting ways to get your squash to last.
The Best Way To Store Squash
To know the best way to store squash, you will need to identify what kind of squash you are storing. Winter squash is harvested in time for the winter months. Some examples are pumpkin and acorn squash.
Summer squash is identified by a thin skin and usually has more water in its flesh. Zucchini and yellow squash are good examples of this type.
Squash is ideally stored in a dark place that is between 50 degrees to 55 degrees. If no location with this temperature range is not available in your home, winter squash is most simply stored uncut on the countertop.
As long as they are not in direct sunlight, winter squash keeps for weeks on the counter. Prolong the life of a whole raw squash by washing it with a 10 part water to 1 part bleach solution.
Whole raw summer squash can also be kept for less than a week on the countertop if out of direct sunlight.
Cure Freshly Picked Winter Squash
One way to greatly extend the shelf life of squash is to cure it. You would need a well-ventilated area that reaches 80-85 degrees, ideally a shed or sunroom for this method.
Use a fan to provide extra ventilation. Set up shelves or racks that will allow air to circulate around the squash until it dries out, usually in 10 to 15 days.
The removal of the moisture will not only extend the life of the squash to be able to be used all year, but this process also sweetens the flesh. This should not be attempted with acorn or summer squash varieties.
How Do You Keep Squash Fresh In The Fridge?
If you do not have counter space to store your winter squash, you can also store it in the fridge. The best space-saving way to do this would be to slice or cube the squash. You may choose to pre-cook, blanch it in boiling water for a minute or two, or store it raw.
How Long Does Squash Last In The Fridge?
Store raw or cooked squash in an airtight container in the least humid spot of your fridge for up to 3-5 days. Both summer and winter squash will keep the same amount of time. The whole summer squash can be stored in an open plastic or paper bag in the crisper for up to a week.
Make Refrigerator Pickles From Both Summer And Winter Squash
Looking for a way to store the squash in the fridge longer? Pickle your squash for snacks, salad toppings, relish, and dips. To make easy refrigerator pickles from your squash:
- Cut your squash according to how you'll be consuming it. For snacks, slice into spears. For relish, dips, and toppings, dice or spiralize your squash. Separate into jars.
- Make your brine according to your taste. Start with white vinegar or apple cider vinegar and equal part water.
- Add spices and salt. We recommend at least a 1/2 teaspoon per cup of liquid.
- Add garnishes such as onions, peppers, and garlic to taste.
- Bring the vinegar mixture to a boil and pour it over the squash.
Your pickles will be at their tastiest after a week. This method works for both summer and acorn squash.
This video shows how to make the brine for pickling any type of produce. Play with the seasonings to see what you like best. Refrigerator pickles will keep at least six weeks, though some claim they have had batches last almost a year.
What's The Best Way To Freeze Squash?
The most common method of freezing squash is to cube and blanch it. To do this, bring water to a boil and drop the cubed squash in the boiling water. Remove after 2-5 minutes. Summer squash only needs to blanch about 1 minute.
Spaghetti squash should not be cubed and blanched. Instead, after removing the seeds, roast both halves at 400 degrees in your oven. Once the flesh comes off in strings, it's done. Use a vacuum sealer or remove all the air and moisture before storing in freezer bags in the freezer.
How Do You Freeze Squash Without It Being Mushy?
To avoid mushy squash, after blanching, spread it out on a cookie sheet or pizza pan that is either lightly greased with a cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Make sure the pieces are not touching. Freeze for an hour or two until dry and hard to touch, then place into freezer bags.
Some home cooks recommend maintaining texture by dropping the pieces in ice-cold water until cooled. After straining, they can be placed in freezer containers.
If the squash is being used for smoothies or sauces, then the blanching and spreading on the cookie tray can be skipped. These steps are only to preserve texture.
If texture will not be an issue, then raw cubed squash can be frozen in pre-portioned amounts placed directly into the freezer bags. Be sure to press out as much air as possible for the best results.
Puree and Freeze Squash
For use in quick bread recipes, dips, soups, and baby food, store squash already cooked and pureed. Cut the squash in half, and remove the seeds. Remove the rind or peel.
Cut into manageable pieces, then boil until soft. Use an immersion blender to puree till the desired consistency.
Purees store the best vacuum sealed, but if you don't have a vacuum sealer, it would be acceptable to use regular quart freezer bags, removing as much air as possible. To thaw, simply drop the packaged squash in a bowl of hot water.
Purees also store well in freezer trays used for ice cubes, deserts, or baby food.
Can You Freeze Fresh Squash Whole?
Winter squash should not be frozen whole. It would ruin the texture as you would need to wait for it to completely thaw before using it. Summer squash could be frozen whole if you were going to use it in a few months, but it is not recommended as there are better ways to preserve texture and freezer space.
How Long Can You Store Squash In The Freezer?
In containers or freezer bags, squash will last 3-6 months. Vacuum sealing your squash will extend freezer life up to a year. Winter squash can stand longer storage times, but summer varieties should be used within the lower 3-month time period for best results.
To Get The Most Out Of Your Squash, Prep It!
Now that you know how to store your squash and how long it will last you on the counter, freezer, or fridge, prep your squash in large amounts to save time. You always have it on hand for your favorite meals.
Make sure you label your prepped and stored squash as it will change in appearance, especially in the freezer. Stored correctly, you'll be able to enjoy this versatile vegetable all year long.
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