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I love growing my own food. Part of growing all the food is not only eating it fresh in the summer, but preserving it for winter use. One vegetable we are trying to incorporate more of is squash.
There are a few options to preserve squash for the winter. You can dice and freeze them, or store them at room temperature for 6-8 months depending on the type of squash. Squash with harder skins, like butternut, spaghetti, or pumpkin store well at room temperature. I will briefly cover storing squash at room temperature.
Step 1: For any method is to harvest the squash. Cut the squash (butternut, spaghetti, pumpkin) from the vines when they are ripe and before the first killing frost. Squash plants can typically handle light frost just fine.
Step 2: There are two different options here. The first is simply storing them on newspaper, the second is coating them with oil.
Storing squash on newspaper is by far the easier way. Simply spread several layers of newspaper out on a counter, then set the squash on them without touching. You want to place them in a place with moderate temperature. I use my basement as it is finished and kept around 60 degrees in the winter, with little humidity (we run a dehumidifier). A root cellar is too damp, and an attic too cold in the winter for squash to keep. Feel free to decorate with them too around the house. This allows you to monitor them for mold and remove them before they become mush and enjoy their decorative features.
The other option is to coat the squash with oil. Again you want to store at a moderate temperature, with low humidity. The oil method takes a bit more time and supervision, but the squash do keep longer. Before you store the squash, simply wipe each squash with a clean rag, soaked in vegetable oil. The oil reduces the spread of mold spores. If mold does appear, simply re-wipe the squash with oil.
Happy squash harvesting and decorating!
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