When winter comes, the harsh climate increases the need to preserve agricultural products.
Even fruits that are easy to adapt and store in room conditions like acorn squashes, if not stored carefully, will easily become a mess after just a few days in storage.
So, how to store acorn squash for the winter safely and effectively? Depending on the processing status and integrity of the acorn squash, you will have different preservation methods.
Now, it’s time to scroll down and discover all the acorn squash storage methods for maximum shelf life and intact flavor!
What Is Acorn Squash?
Acorn squash grows in all US states, but the largest concentration of commercial farms is in California, New York, and Michigan.
According to assessments from indigenous people, squash is popular mainly due to its impressive preservation time and ability to fully ripen over charcoal.
Unlike zucchini and other summer squashes, Acorn squash has a steel-like skin and is drier, making it a bit more difficult to prepare.
Although this food is grown year-round, it produces higher yields in winter, leading to its name “winter squash.”
In American kitchens, squash often serves as the main ingredient in pureed, stir-fried, stuffed, steamed, roasted, and baked dishes in its skin. You even sometimes find it as a surprise ingredient in cakes.
How To Store Acorn Squash For The Winter?
Although acorn squash can be stored for long periods without deteriorating, improper storage can quickly turn it into a mess sooner than you think.
If you still don’t know how to store squash, don’t ignore any of the tips below.
Storing A Cured Acorn Squash
You need to remove the entire diseased and bruised area for a fruit full of pimples on the spin.
Use pruning shears to cut the stem of the acorn squash vine to about 2-3 inches long, as trying to pull the stem off can cause the wound to become larger.
Prioritize using acorn squashes with many injuries first because they will deteriorate sooner than healthier ones.
Light frosts in winter can make the acorn squash on the farm sweeter but shorten storage time. Therefore, harvest your crop before the outside temperature drops.
Always ensure the acorn squash is dry, completely remove any remaining flowers from the bottom of the acorn squash, and keep them cool.
While most winter squashes need to be stored at 50° – 55° F with 60 to 70% humidity, Acorn acorn squashes require temperatures below 55° F.
Before officially entering the squash storage process, dry the winter squash at 80-85°F for 1-2 weeks to evaporate excess moisture and increase the skin’s firmness.
You can keep this fruit for at least 4 weeks in a dry location, while its products (such as squash spaghetti, buttercup, butternut, and blue Hubbard can be stored for 1 to 7 months).
Storing A Uncut Acorn Squash
A whole squash without any preparation can achieve a storage life of up to 2-3 months at temperatures of 50-60°F or 10-15°C.
In hotter areas (room temperature 68°F or 20°C), the maximum storage time is 2 months from harvest.
However, warm temperatures with high humidity only allow acorn squashes to stay fresh for a few weeks.
First, rinse the fruit with hot water and scrub the acorn squash skin to remove the hair and all remaining mold spores.
At some commercial stores, people also coat the shell with a protective solution to protect it from the attack of environmental humidity.
It would help to store them in dark, dry, and cool areas, such as a closed kitchen cabinet or pantry.
Never put them in the refrigerator, because temperatures below 50°F (10°C) can negatively affect the texture and flavor of the squash.
Storing A Cut Acorn Squash
If you accidentally prepare the acorn squash (peeling, cutting, or slicing), bacteria can get inside, causing the storage time to be significantly shortened.
To slow bacterial growth and keep your squash fresh longer, you’ll need to keep these slices in a clean, airtight container.
Keep the squash in the refrigerator, and you’ll still be able to use it for the next few days.
Storing A Cooked Acorn Squash
For fully cooked squash, the spoilage process will happen faster than ever.
Therefore, storage in extremely cold environments (typically refrigerators and freezers) can prevent bacterial attacks, as well as slow down the spoilage process of food.
Preserving food in the refrigerator after cooking can be done in every home while reducing the growth of bacteria and the risk of bacterial food poisoning.
Once cooked, you must wait at least 2 hours for the food to cool completely before covering it and putting it in the refrigerator. You can reheat and use the cooked acorn squash within 3 to 4 days.
Frozen squash is a great choice for homemakers who have headaches with the long-term preservation of cooked foods.
Besides, using the freezer is also more appropriate for cooked foods because it can cause raw fruits and vegetables to become more mushy.
Puree or dice your acorn squash before placing it in an airtight container and transferring it to the freezer.
This acorn squash box can keep its flavor intact for 3 to 4 months. Although you can still store them for over 4 months, they will lose some unique texture and flavor.
When you are ready to use it, defrost it using the microwave or leave it overnight in the refrigerator.
What Are The Benefits Of Storing Acorn Squash?
After harvesting mature winter squash, these large fruits contain a lot of water, promoting bacterial attack faster.
Handling and preserving acorn squashes can help limit water loss from the fruit and protect the acorn squash from the invasion of moisture and bacteria from the outside environment.
After being harvested, acorn squashes continue to breathe through the skin. When stored in a ventilated and dry environment, its shell cures and strengthens, forming a strong protective layer.
This protective layer slows down respiration, prevents rotting, and increases acorn squash storage time and even the sweetness inside.
Should You Store Acorn Squash In The Fridge?
The answer depends on the condition of your squash!
Although winter squash can stay healthy for about a month in ideal storage (cool, 50 to 55 degrees F), it can only last 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Therefore, keeping boxes of cooked acorn squash in the fridge is best.
How To Harvest & Cure Winter Squash For Storage?
When your acorn squash farm is ready to harvest, it’s best to use pruning shears and keep about 2-3 inches of stem.
Then, dry the acorn squashes in the sun for about ten days in temperatures of 80°F to 85°F and 80 to 85% humidity.
After this curing process ends, their shells become stronger and can be preserved longer.
How Long Will Acorn Squash Keep?
Typically, whole acorn squash can be kept for 1 to 2 months in cool, dry, dark conditions. It needs to be covered and stored in the refrigerator for a maximum acorn squash shelf life of 4 days for cooked squash.
Besides being a versatile and nutritious winter squash, acorn squashes are also famous for preserving flavor over long periods.
Although you can keep them in your warehouse for up to 3 months, the storage environment and fruit condition limitations can also narrow this storage period.
So, how to store acorn squash for the winter properly? Please determine the product’s condition before choosing the appropriate preservation method mentioned in my article.
That is the key to helping you enjoy a delicious and safe meal!