Need winter squash advice quick so get in here!

Dirtmechanic

Deeply Rooted
Joined
Jan 14, 2019
Messages
620
Reaction score
1,027
Points
187
Location
Birmingham AL (Zone 8a)
Becky wanted to do the garden this year and one of her choices was the "butternut" type squash. The vines have done their business and are receding. Yesterday she is telling me to enter the pearly yet rusted gates and "pick what is ready". Sounds like a bit of a bail out to me. Nontheless the stout husband proceeds forward! Except I have never in my life tried to preserve a winter squash. My Grandfather would put sweet potato up on fluffy pinestraw. Airflow, out of the rain, under a shed roof. There are not that many really, at most 50 squash. Advice? Remember I am in Alabama where all the humidity from the melting polar ice caps has decided to vacation!
 

digitS'

Garden Master
Joined
Dec 13, 2007
Messages
20,349
Reaction score
10,609
Points
457
Location
border, ID/WA(!)
Whoa. 50 Butternut? Be attentive, there is quite a lot of good eating to be gained.

I have only recently been try to do a better job with "curing" winter squash. Every few years, I would become frustrated with squash decaying on basement shelves. This, after resigning myself to only being able to store squash into January.

For my gardening, it's mostly having properly mature squash. However, one thing that I learned reading about the curing process was NOT to hurry down to the basement with them. I now keep the squash and pumpkins in either the carport or on the covered deck for a couple of weeks.

Here's a one page pdf file from Kansas State with some advice: LINK Your Grandfather's technique looks like a good one to me.

Wishing you the best of luck.

Steve
 

baymule

Garden Master
Joined
Mar 20, 2011
Messages
14,460
Reaction score
18,250
Points
427
Location
Northeast Texas
That's a great article. I don't have 50 squash, but I have half a dozen Pink Banana Squash that I want to preserve. Thanks Steve!
 

Dirtmechanic

Deeply Rooted
Joined
Jan 14, 2019
Messages
620
Reaction score
1,027
Points
187
Location
Birmingham AL (Zone 8a)
Whoa. 50 Butternut? Be attentive, there is quite a lot of good eating to be gained.

I have only recently been try to do a better job with "curing" winter squash. Every few years, I would become frustrated with squash decaying on basement shelves. This, after resigning myself to only being able to store squash into January.

For my gardening, it's mostly having properly mature squash. However, one thing that I learned reading about the curing process was NOT to hurry down to the basement with them. I now keep the squash and pumpkins in either the carport or on the covered deck for a couple of weeks.

Here's a one page pdf file from Kansas State with some advice: LINK Your Grandfather's technique looks like a good one to me.

Wishing you the best of luck.

Steve
Thank you. I think I get the idea of airflow being very important. It is still very hot and humid here. I have a shed I built specifically to catch airflow as the air heats and cools up and down the hill our house is built into. Actually it was built for my wife's gourd art. Those gourds and the winter squash have a lot in common. I have never put it to this purpose, but it is very much more airy than my regular shed. I also keep a dehumidifier in my shop\garage, mainly to keep the the big door from unbalancing the hvac air in the house but it might dessicate the squash over time so I do not know if I would ruin them. I was thinking to wash them in something like weak clorox water fungicide and store them inside during these last hot summer weeks.
 

baymule

Garden Master
Joined
Mar 20, 2011
Messages
14,460
Reaction score
18,250
Points
427
Location
Northeast Texas
You could cut some in chunks and can them in water for "instant use". I only have a few of the Pink Banana squash, but I want to try canning at least one of them. Can't do a solid pack like the cans of Libbey's pumpkin (that is really butternut squash) because home canning won't penetrate to the inner core of a solid pack. But chunks in water will reach the proper temperatures and do just fine.
 

digitS'

Garden Master
Joined
Dec 13, 2007
Messages
20,349
Reaction score
10,609
Points
457
Location
border, ID/WA(!)
Somehow, washing them in bleach water makes a little sense to me but I really don't know. Plants produce wax and that protects surface cells. Washing that off wouldn't be a good idea.

I know nothing about humidity, or nearly nothing. It's been over 50 years since I had a garden on the northern California coast. I don't remember that I had squash or pumpkins.

@baymule , longer ago those 5 decades, I was using Pink Banana squash for Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. We grew those in the family garden in Oregon. They made such delicious pie that I tried to grow them in my earliest gardens up here but that wasn't going to work.

Steve
who once stored winter squash under his bed and, somehow, was reasonably successful with doing that :).
 

Ridgerunner

Garden Master
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
7,332
Reaction score
6,815
Points
377
Location
Southeast Louisiana Zone 9A
Winter squash need to be ripe before you harvest them or they won't store well. That's not as easy for me to tell as I wish it were. The skin gets hard. Supposedly you can tell if you can't punch a hole in it with your fingernail but with my horny claws I can always puncture it. I'm not exactly a delicate sensitive person. I guess what you are looking for is hard skin, not soft. Some places that might be when the vine starts dying back but not sure how that would work in Alabumble. In warm humid Arkansas if they stayed in contact with the ground too long they could rot where they made contact. I've heard of people setting them up on something to keep them off the ground but I never tried it.

When I harvested mine I put them on a wire mesh bottomed trailer inside a very well ventilated shed. Not sure if it is important to keep them out of the sun but I wanted them out of the rain. I'd leave them there until it threatened to freeze. You do not want them to freeze. Then I'd move them to my attached garage so they would not freeze.

These were not the best storage conditions, just the best I had. They'd usually store two or three months, seldom four months.
 

flowerbug

Garden Master
Joined
Oct 15, 2017
Messages
7,847
Reaction score
6,387
Points
317
Location
mid-Michigan, USoA
cure 'em good, if it is humid outside you may need to bring them inside with the AC/dehumidifier to get a good cure on them before they'll store well.

what i do is triage any squash that need to be put up right away. i cut them up (removing whatever is rotting) and then roast those parts and when that is done they get scraped and bagged and put in the freezer. other containers can be used instead of bags. i double bag everything because any hint of freezerburn smell/taste and i won't enjoy it at all.

sorry, short for time, gotta get back outside while i can...
 

Dirtmechanic

Deeply Rooted
Joined
Jan 14, 2019
Messages
620
Reaction score
1,027
Points
187
Location
Birmingham AL (Zone 8a)
cure 'em good, if it is humid outside you may need to bring them inside with the AC/dehumidifier to get a good cure on them before they'll store well.

what i do is triage any squash that need to be put up right away. i cut them up (removing whatever is rotting) and then roast those parts and when that is done they get scraped and bagged and put in the freezer. other containers can be used instead of bags. i double bag everything because any hint of freezerburn smell/taste and i won't enjoy it at all.

sorry, short for time, gotta get back outside while i can...
So what exactly does curing a squash consist of process-wise?
 

digitS'

Garden Master
Joined
Dec 13, 2007
Messages
20,349
Reaction score
10,609
Points
457
Location
border, ID/WA(!)
Time
Control of temperature
Control of humidity

You can look at the USDA advice to farmers. The commercial outfits may not have begun filling buildings with nitrogen gas, as they do with other produce, but I'm sure that even that has been studied.

I can't provide the initial higher humidity or the temperature control with lower temps over time. I can allow for some better airflow and some higher temperatures just by not hurrying them to the basement early.

I do expect to make Thanksgiving and Christmas pumpkin pie with them, that is 3 months storage. With ample growing space available and an appreciation for winter squash flavor, I will continue trying to have them in storage for 4+ months. It has happened but it will primarily be a variety choice that will make it consistently likely for me. :D I'm convinced of it.

Steve
 

Latest posts

Top