Butternut squash has quite a long shelf life compared to many other fruits and vegetables. But this is true only if you store it right.
How long does butternut squash last? Butternut squash will last up to 2 months in a cool pantry. If you want to extend its shelf life, cook the squash and keep it in the freezer. Frozen butternut squash is good for at least 12 months. You should never refrigerate butternut squash unless you have peeled it and packaged tightly with food wrap.
In this article, you will learn how to pick and store butternut squash and what are the signs that you have been keeping it in your pantry for too long.
Also read: Homemade Pumpkin Puree (used as a substitute for pumpkin).
Does Butternut Squash Go Bad?
Knowing how long fresh food items like butternut squash last will help you use your products in a timely manner before they go bad.
It often happens that we buy a squash and leave it in the pantry for weeks until we crave a hearty stew or soup. And when we are finally in the mood for it, we find the butternut squash, so very necessary for the dish, already spoiled and rotten.
Butternut squash does go bad. It requires proper storage conditions in order to keep well. If you are not sure that you will use your butternut squash before it goes bad, there are alternative storage methods to extend the shelf life of this product.
How to Store Butternut Squash?
The ideal temperature for storing butternut squash is between 50 °F to 59 °F (10 – 15 °C). However, not all households can provide it. Thus, it is best to keep butternut squash in the pantry where it is relatively cold.
When storing butternut squash in the pantry, there are a few simple rules to follow.
- Do not store the squash in the pantry in a bag, be it paper or plastic.
- Make sure you keep the squash somewhere dry. Humidity and moisture will cause it to go bad in no time.
- Don’t put the squash directly on the ground.
- Keep the squash away from ripening fruits. Examples of such fruits are bananas, apples, and pears. They produce ethylene which will have a negative impact on butternut squash when the latter is exposed to it.
- It is preferable for the room where you keep the butternut squash to be well-ventilated.
Should You Refrigerate Butternut Squash?
Never put whole butternut squash in the refrigerator as it will go bad very quickly.
You can store butternut squash in the fridge only if it is peeled. Make sure to cover the squash tightly with food wrap to make it last as long as possible.
It should be noted, however, that the shelf life of butternut squash stored in the fridge is not that long. You will need to cook something with it within a few days before it goes bad.
Can You Freeze Butternut Squash?
While you may be able to find butternut squash all year round, it is still a seasonal product. Butternut squash is at its best in autumn and winter.
Some people like to indulge in butternut squash soups and stews only in colder seasons. Others, however, want to enjoy them notwithstanding the weather.
A good solution is to freeze butternut squash. This is also a great way to extend the shelf life of butternut squash if you know you won’t be using it soon enough.
Raw butternut squash doesn’t freeze well. Cook butternut squash and only then freeze it. We recommend freezing the squash in smaller portions to make thawing easy. Additionally, it will be much easier to use the needed amount of squash and you won’t need to defrost the whole thing to just use a portion of it.
Freeze butternut squash in tightly sealed freezer bags to prevent freezer burn. You can also use airtight plastic containers. These, however, take up a lot more space than plastic bags do.
To use frozen butternut squash, transfer it to the fridge and let it thaw. Don’t expose the squash to drastic temperature changes by transferring it to room temperature. This may cause the squash to become too mushy.
How Long Does Butternut Squash Last?
If stored in a room where the temperature is between 50 °F to 59 °F (10 – 15 °C), butternut squash will keep for 2 to 3 months.
Stored in a cool pantry, butternut squash will last for 1 to 2 months. But this is simply an estimation, as a lot depends on the condition of the squash when you first bought it. Also, you never know how long it has been sitting on supermarket shelves.
Peeled butternut squash stored in the fridge has a short shelf life. You should use it within 3 to 5 days.
Frozen butternut squash has the longest shelf life. If you maintain a stable temperature in the freezer, the squash is likely to last forever. However, it will start to lose its flavor properties overtime. Thus, it is best to use frozen butternut squash within 6 to 12 months.
How to Make Butternut Squash Last Longer?
To make butternut squash last longer the most important thing you should do is to choose a good one when you go to buy it.
Good butternut squash is blemish-free. It should also be hard as soft butternut squash is most likely already spoiled. There shouldn’t be too many soft spots on the squash either.
Additionally, you should pay attention to the stem. It shouldn’t be cut too short. There should be at least 2.5 centimeters of the stem. If the stem of the squash is cut close to the skin it will go bad very quickly.
Another thing that will tell you that the butternut squash you have chosen is a good one is the weight. If the squash feels light, put it back and pick a new one. Good butternut squash should feel quite heavy. In fact, the heavier it seems for its size the better. This means that it has been delivered to the market not too long ago.
Signs That Butternut Squash Has Gone Bad
There a number of signs that will tell you that your butternut squash is going bad.
To inspect the butternut squash that has been in the pantry for God knows how long, start with the skin.
Firstly, the skin of butternut squash should have a shine to it and not be dull. Secondly, the squash should have an all-over even color. If there are spots on the squash that weren’t there when you first bought it, save the squash. Use it! It has already started to go bad!
Feel the squash. Press on the skin of butternut squash to see if it is firm. Butternut squash that has softened is certainly not good for use.
Also, pick up the squash to see if it feels as heavy as you first bought it. If the squash feels light, it is an indication of the fact that it has lost all of its moisture.
Can’t figure out whether the squash is good or not just by looking at it and feeling it? Cut it lengthwise to inspect the insides. If you see any dark spots in the flesh or mold around the seeds, discard the squash.
If there are only a few dark or squishy spots in the squash, cut them out as you would with any other vegetable and use the remaining part that is still good.
When butternut squash sits long in the pantry, it naturally undergoes some changes. Namely, if you cut the squash open and see that the part with the seeds looks fibrous and off-putting, don’t hurry to throw the squash away. Simply remove those parts and use the rest.
Cooked butternut squash should be discarded if it has developed an off-putting taste or smell or if there is mold in the container with squash.