Harvest winter squash no later than the 1st or 2nd light frost as fruit can be damaged with prolonged exposure to temperature under 50 degrees F. When mature, squash cannot be dented with a fingernail. Fruit should be fully mature before storage. Immature squash will spoil quickly.
When cutting off the vine, leave 2″ of stem, but do not carry it by the stem when handling. Once harvested, cure the squash in a sunny window or a porch at 75-80 degrees for 1-2 weeks. This will allow the skin to harden further and scratched or dented areas to heal.
To prolong storage period, kill any surface organisms by dipping the squash in a 1:10 dilution of bleach and water. Allow to drip dry, then store at 50-60 degrees in a dry, well-ventilated spot. The ideal storage condition is 50-60 degrees F with 70-80% humidity and good air circulation around each squash. This may be in a cool basement, root cellar, garage, or a storage shed, depending on your climate. Keep stored squash away from apples and pears which release ethylene gas and promote decay.
Average storage period for winter squash
- 6 weeks: Delicata
- 1-2 months: Acorn
- 2-3 months: Butternut, Buttercup, pumpkins
- 3-6 months: Banana, Spaghetti