Saturday, September 28, 2013

Harvesting and Storing Butternut Squash Throughout the Winter


"The rind was so hard that Ma had to take Pa's ax to cut the squash into peices. When the peices were baked in the oven, Laura loved to spread the soft insides with butter and then scoop the yellow flesh from the rind and eat it."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods

Butternut squash is one of the easiest crops to grow. Because of this, we plant a lot! Usually, I fear for some of our harvest because they can overwhelm you when ready at the same time. This is not so with butternut squash because they "keep" for you if properly harvested and cured.


My husband brings them in by the barrel and it is very satisfying to know that you will have some source of free, fresh food throughout the autumn and winter months. These butternut squash will provide our family with vitamin A, C, potassium and fiber.

Here are some ways we enjoy them:
  • Peel them (and remove seeds), cut them into cubes, steam them until tender (remove water) and stir in coconut oil until they are all coated. Serve with rice (simmered in bone broth is best) and a green salad.
  • Peel them (and remove seeds), cut into cubes, coat with olive oil, sea salt and Italian seasoning. Roast them in your oven until squash is tender and a bit caramelized (we have done this over a barbecue pit in a rack which was also very tasty).
  • Our favorite way to use them is in creamy butternut squash soups! I will share our recipe soon.
  • Make pumpkin pies with them! Yes, that is right. If you read this article here, you will see that canned pumpkin isn't really pumpkin. It is made of various winter squashes such as butternut.
Harvest Tips
  • It is best to harvest them prior to the first frost, when the skins are tough and hard (and can not be punctured by your thumb nail).
  • What we learned (after the fact) was that we should have left at least 2 inches of the stem on each squash to deter the growth of bacteria (thankfully we didn't end up with too many casualties last season). The proper way to remove your squash from the vine is by cutting it with a knife (don't rip them off).
  • Use any split-looking squash first as they will not store well (you will notice some scarred ones in the barrel). 

How to "Cure" and Storage Tips
  • In order to store them for a long period of time, you need to cure them first. Simply lay them out for a few weeks in the sun right after they are harvested (unwashed).
  • When the proper time has elapsed, store squash in a dark, dry and cool location with good air circulation (basement, root cellar or garage perhaps). Do not let them freeze.
  • It is best to store them in a single layer without touching each other (if space permits). Placing them on a pallet is a good idea.

Last season, we were able to enjoy our butternut squash all the way through the following spring!


All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them).

40 comments:

  1. I just recently made creamy squash soup for the first time and it was amazing! I have to try and make it again since I was flying by the seat of my pants when I made it. The truth is I really don't like squash but I used it in my soup because I wanted it to be creamy but couldn't use any dairy. The squash worked perfectly! And I loved it! This post is great and I plan on growing it in our garden next year!

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  2. Dar Jes, I love butternut squash. I wish I have a garden that produce that. Enjoy your harvest my friend, I always enjoy your post. God has blessed you! I hope you and your family are well.

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  3. I am so jealous of your quantity of squash and that it lasted that long! Our butternut squash plants have yet to bear a single squash. Maybe next year! Beautiful pictures.

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  4. I grew up in Minn and we never harvested our butternut squash until after the first LIGHT frost,then as you harvest it leave the two inches of stem on them..storing as you do is the best way or put paper sacks or newspaper inbetween the layers....yes they will last all winter if not eaten before then! Love your articles!

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    1. Interesting… thanks for sharing! I will be trying your tip of newspaper between layers next year because it was difficult finding space to keep in one layer!

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    2. I'm thinking of storing squash, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes in large cardboard boxes or Rubber* tubs, separating the vegetables with shredded newspaper, then loosely covering the tops with black plastic garbage bags to keep out the light. We don't have a basement/root cellar or garage, so I thought of an unused bedroom. Would this work?

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    3. First off, I love your resourceful thinking! While I am NOT an expert, here are some thoughts, make sure the room is cold and unheated and dark (for ventilation maybe crack the window), for root veggies I read that you could store them in boxes layered in silver sand or fresh saw-dust making sure they don't touch each other, maybe store the potatoes in crates (inside sacks) which allow for circulation and then the squash in layers of paper like the reader above mentioned? I have no experience with sweet potatoes. Just ideas as sometimes life is simply trial and error :) Check weekly for anything rotting (and remove) and rethink how you are storing that item. I have also heard of people burying old ice chests in the ground (with lid at surface covered in leaves for insulation) and using this as a root cellar during the fall/winter months. Either way, let me know how it all works out! And sorry I couldn't be of more help!

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    4. Actually, we have stored sweet potatoes in the unused bedroom successfully. We close the heat/air vent in cold weather, use a draft stopper under the door, and use the ceiling fan to circulate air. We placed the potatoes in box tops lined with newspaper, after putting plastic clothes bags on the carpet. Then we put black plastic over the boxes to keep the light out. The room stayed at 50-60 degrees all winter, and we only lost one or two sweet potatoes. We have lost so many onions, red and baking potatoes over the years, probably due to exposure to light and too much heat, and I'm just looking for a way to store them without loss, now that we are growing more and also have a source for organically grown produce to supplement our garden. Just wondering if the newspaper would be okay...

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    5. Thank you Becky for sharing your experience! These are good things to know! And HURRAY ~ an answer for you… I haven't had experience so I went to the big guns, my "Carla Emory" book. She says to cure them in the sun for 2 to 3 hours to dry thoroughly and once that is done (they need to be DRY and well insulated), wrap individually in newspaper and then in boxes or baskets in a cool room :) There are more detailed instructions for the curing depending on climate and if you need those, let me know ~ Happy harvesting ~ JES

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  5. Great info! We shared with our FB readers at homestedlady.com.

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  6. Great harvest! Love butternut squash.

    My butternut squash didn't produce this year. (Zone 6, edge of Zone 5) Can you recommend a certain seed where I might get better results?

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    1. Oh, I am sorry but I really don't know. We received our seeds in a little brown envelope from a family member. There was zero information on the packet :(

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  7. Beautiful harvest!
    Strangely it has been the squash I've had the least success with. I grew them in the 3 sisters guild this year and the corn sucked up all the nutrition and caused them not to grow! Next year... Next year I will get butternut squash!

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    1. YES you will! I like your positive attitude :)

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  8. Winter squash is the best. It does keep really well. One year we got so much from the garden, that we had it through the following summer, believe it not. It kept that well. Found this on Homestead Barn hop - thanks for sharing.

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    1. I do believe it! They are amazing keepers which is why we love to grow them. Thank you for sharing here today! :)

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  9. Love the brick lined pit. Do tell about it: dimensions, cover, drainage, yard placement etc. Thanks

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    1. Hello there! Actually, it is just a brick path in our backyard that we utilized. It does look like something more in the picture though :) Thanks for your interest!

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  10. Lovely post, JES. I like your storage method a lot. Oh, how I wish I'd grown butternut squash instead of acorn squash this year. It didn't do well at all. Ah well, my beets and greens are looking good for fall.

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    1. You can always rely on beets! We have really learned to love them :) But I must say, the long storage of butternut squash make them a blessing.

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  11. I'll spend a few hours on a Saturday baking squash. When it's cool, I'll stick it in muffin tins and freeze it. I'll stick one "muffin" in a bowl with some butter and pumpkin pie spice in my lunch and heat it at work. It's the perfect single-serving size.

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    1. What a neat tip! Thank you for sharing Mrs. P :)

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  12. An easy recipe is to cubed butternut squash add a can (or your own canned) of apple pie filling and bake until bubbly. You can add cinnamon and even make a crumbly streusel topping.

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    1. Wow, that is a new idea! Thank you for sharing some inspiration! I canned some apple pie filling too so it would be perfect :)

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  13. My favorite is a butternut squash casserole. It is amazing! Thanks for the ideas and the submission to the HomeAcre hop. Feel free to stop by at www.PintSizeFarm.com or another one of the hosts to submit another this week!

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    1. Oh, never tried one of those! Thank you for the idea, will do some sleuthing! And looking forward to linking up with the HomeAcre Hop on Thursday again :)

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  14. Thanks you so much for sharing this info! I was just given a bunch of Butternut and was trying to remember how Dad kept them for so long. He had a huge veggie garden and I would normally go to him for that. But he's gone now, so it's been years since I've been overrun with his veggies and couldn't remember what to do with all this squash! *hugs*deb

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    1. Thank you for sharing Deb! Glad to hear the information is useful :)

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  15. My squash didn't produce this year. By the time we figured out that it was due to the lack of bees the season was to late. The ones that did make it was hand polinated. So if your crop failed, it maybe the same problem. People using to much insecticide.

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  16. Oh one other thing, don't mix your onions, apples, potatoes with your squash, they will make them rot faster. Thank you.

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    1. Excellent! Thank you for the tips!!! :)

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  17. Don't throw those seeds away. After you remove them, toast them like you might pumpkin seeds; they are delicious (and nutritious).

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    1. Excellent idea Jody! I have done with pumpkin but not the butternut... and we just made some yesterday (pout)... Will do so next time! :)

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  18. I grow butternuts in my garden in France and this year I have just harvested them and they are huge - a few sadly have split (I think after some rain we had following a long dry spell) but we'll just use those first. Mine get stored on some shelve up to the loft room but I fear I may have more squashes than shelf space this year!

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    1. Sounds like you had a great harvest! What is wonderful is that they keep fairly long! Thank you for sharing here today :)

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  19. This is terrific information. I haven't tried to grow butternut squash. My family doesn't necessarily like it, but I add it to roasted root veggies. My favorite thing to do is puree it and make chicken nuggets from it. It makes a rich tasting nugget that my kids love. (Probably because they don't know they're eating squash! haha)

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  20. We love butternut squash, but have never grown them. Thank you for the tips! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

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  21. JES, I'd love to include this post in a roundup of winter squash recipes. Could i have your permission to link to it and use one photo with credit? Please email me at kathi@oakhillhomestead.com if this is suitable. Thank you.

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    1. Hi Kathi,

      Hope all is well! Feel free to use a photo and link in your round up! Looking forward to the post! 😊

      Love,
      JES

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