Are you struggling to figure out how to properly store your butternut squash? This strange fruit does not have a lot in common with many other kinds of fruit, so it might throw you off a little.
If you are not sure how you should be storing butternut squash, or why, you have come to the right place. Here, we are going to go through different ways to store your butternut squash so that it lasts as long as possible.
On top of that, we will also learn how to safely thaw your butternut squash after it has been frozen.
About The Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is a fruit, more specifically, a berry. You read that right – these creamy orange delights are botanically considered to be berries,
yet we frequently roast and stew them. It may be weird to think about, but it is oddly true.
These squash can be toasted, sautéed, roasted, or even puréed and turned into delicious soups.
They are originally thought to hail from Mexico and nearby countries, and are very popular cooking ingredients. From curries to raw, crispy salads, these fruit are very versatile.
Butternut squash can reach heights of 18 inches, and weight over 2 lb. They are relatively easy to grow, and are a popular species for gardening.
How To Tell If Butternut Squash Has Gone Bad
A healthy butternut squash will have skin that is a pale orange, and when cut into, its flesh will be a beautiful bright shade of orange. The fruit is firm and hard, with the shape of an elongated pear.
There should be no discoloration on the skin, and it should smell fresh. When cut open, a healthy butternut squash will have a mildly sweet aroma that resembles a mix between a pumpkin and a cantaloupe.
If a butternut squash has gone off, it can look very different. There may be white spots on its skin or even mold. It will smell strange and unpleasant and no longer be similar to that of a pumpkin and cantaloupe.
Mold may appear on the skin, usually by the stalk, or inside when it is cut open.
If you have cut up your butternut and left it for some time, there may be mold growth on the chopped pieces. Once again, it will smell ‘funny’ and off.
Like other plants in its family, the butternut squash has a toxic compound known as cucurbitacin E. This has been known to cause cucurbit poisoning, which is also called ‘toxic squash syndrome’.
Although this is a rare occurrence, this type of poisoning can be very dangerous, and some people have been known to die from it after ingesting a large portion of squash that had gone off.
Even with butternut squash that have an Eat By Date printed on their label, know that this is more of a guideline.
These guidelines are generally accurate, but can differ from one fruit to the next, so you need to properly evaluate your squash before consuming it, just to be safe.
How To Store Butternut Squash And Make It Last Longer
There are a lot of different ways you can store butternut squash depending on what form it is in. In this section, we will be going to various ways to store this delectable fruit.
Room Temperature – storing your whole, unpeeled butternut squash at room temperature is one of the easiest and most effective storage methods.
You can keep it in a cool, dark place, which is ideal, but even a place like your counter would work fine. Storing your butternut like this should allow it to keep for anywhere between 1-3 months.
This allows you to stock up on them ahead of time and not be too worried about them going off overnight like many other fruits do.
Refrigerator – you may choose to refrigerate your butternut squash, too. The best way to do this is by peeling and cubing the fruit. It should be stored in an airtight container raw, and it will last for up to three days.
This method is a good idea if there is no space in your kitchen for the squash to go, or if you know that you are going to need it in the next few days in that form.
Getting your squash cubed beforehand is a great time saver, so knowing how to store it is always good.
You can also refrigerate roasted (or generally cooked) butternut squash, too. This idea follows the same method as above, and all you need to do is cube and cook your fruit, then let it cool down before packaging it.
Once again, this is great for meal planning and pre-preparing food that you know you will need in the near future.
Freezing – making the decision to freeze your butternut squash can also be a good idea, especially in the summer months. One of the best ways to freeze your squash is to peel it and cut it into small, 1-inch cubes.
Then, spread the cubes out on a sheet pan, so they do not tough each other, and freeze them. Once they have frozen all the way through, transfer them into a Ziploc bag or another airtight container.
Then, simply put them back in the freezer. This method helps the butternut squash cubes not stick together, which could actually take up more space in your freezer.
The second way to freeze butternut squash is to cook it, then purée it. You can follow a recipe or come up with your own, or simply boil and purée the squash however you wish.
Once you have made the purée and allowed it to cool, you can transfer it to a bag, or portion it by using something like an ice tray.
This method of storing butternut will allow it to keep its quality for anywhere between 3 and 6 months.
Frozen food will technically keep indefinitely according to the FDA, but the longer it stays in the freezer, the worse its quality will get.
So, you can store your food in the freezer for as long as you want or need, but it may look, taste, smell and feel different when it is eventually eaten.
How To Thaw Butternut Squash Safely
If you have gone the frozen route but now need to use your butternut squash, we have got you covered. Thawing butternut squash is super easy and straightforward, and there are several ways to do it.
Overnight In The Refrigerator – If you have the time (or remember to), the easiest option is to just take the frozen butternut out of the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight.
Put it in a bowl or on a place in case any moisture drips from the packaging as it defrosts.
Cold Water Method – you can also thaw butternut squash by placing it in cold water. To do this, transfer the squash to a Ziploc bag and fill and bowl with cold water.
Leave the butternut squash in the cold water for around 30 minutes for it to defrost safely.
Avoid using hot water as this could potentially be hazardous. On top of that, using hot water to defrost your squash could avoid its texture and flavor.
Microwave – of course, you can also use the microwave to thaw your butternut squash. This is the quickest method, but also but riskiest.
To do this, you will need to use a low power setting on your device and defrost the squash in short intervals. It is very easy to accidentally cook the squash or even burn it, so you need to constantly keep an eye on the food as it goes through the process.
Final Thoughts On Butternut Squash
Butternut squash a versatile and so easy to use, especially when eaten raw. Not only do these plants have a long shelf life, but you can take steps to make sure they keep for a long time even after they have been cooked.
Of course, leaving your butternut out on the counter on in a cool, dark place is the easiest option, but the refrigerator and freezer options are there, too.
So, next time you go out to get butternut squash and feel like you make have gotten too many, don’t worry about it!
Chances are, these fruits will outlast your appetite, so even if you wait a month (or three) between buying and eating one, it should still be perfectly delicious and safe to eat.