Curing Winter Squash
After you have picked your assortment of winter squash, the next step is learning how to cure them. Curing is a simple process, but a vital one. Without time to cure, your squash will not last as long, and you can quickly lose the entire harvest to rot.
The curing process takes several weeks. You place the squash in a sunny area and turn it every few days, so the sun hits a different spot every time. This exposure to the sun completes the hardening of the shell and provides longer storage time.
Tip: Be sure to cure the bottom and the top of each squash, not just the sides.
Preparing the Squash for Storage
When the curing process is complete, you need to take further steps to prevent the squash from rotting. It would be horrible to go through all the work of planting winter squash only to lose the entire harvest by skipping this step.
- Gently brush dirt and debris off the squash.
- Wash each squash with a mild antibacterial soap or weak bleach and water mixture. This kills any bacteria growing on the rind.
- Thoroughly dry each fruit with a clean cloth.
Tip: Some gardeners use a mild vinegar solution to wash the squash with good results.
Storing the Squash
After you have cured and washed the squash, it is time for you to store them. If you cured and cleansed the squash correctly, they will last several months at room temperature. However, most people prefer to place them in a cool area like a dark closet or basement. A garage or shed will also work, provided there is no danger of freezing.
It is essential to store them in such a way that there is air circulating between each squash, and that they are not resting on a bare concrete floor. A layer of cardboard or newspaper will do the trick. Also, do not store different varieties of squash on the same shelf. A spaghetti squash does not last as long as a butternut squash, and if they start to get soft or rotten, they can contaminate the other squashes.
Revel in the Bounty
As long as you have taken proper care when harvesting and storing your winter squash, it is possible that you can enjoy your favorite autumn dishes all through the winter!