How to Cure Squash and Pumpkins So They Last All Winter Long

Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita mixta, and Cucurbita pepo are summer-growing annuals, maturing through the warmer months and storing through the winter (with some varieties even holding into the following spring).

Though you can use them right away (and what’s more soul-soothing than a butternut roasted to sugary sweetness as the weather turns cooler?), you can also save them for two, three, or even six months from now.

Curing your winter squash doesn’t take much more effort than it does to harvest them, and is well worth the extra step.

How to cure winter squash for storage

Once your winter squash have fully matured, cut the squash from the plant, leaving at least 3 inches of stem.

The stem is the fruit’s fail-safe seal against rot and disease, so avoid lifting it by the stem and instead hold it from the bottom.

Despite their burly appearance, winter squash actually require a little babying to keep them from spoiling. Treat them gently while their skins continue to toughen up and the sun heals any cuts or cracks that could lead to rotting later.

Squash may develop ground stains on their skin, which indicate where they laid on the ground while growing. These superficial spots are merely discolorations and have no effect on the flesh underneath.

Once you’ve harvested all your squash, lay them out in the sun in a warm, well-ventilated area (around 80°F to 85°F is ideal).

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