Squash Winter

Allow winter squash to ripen fully on the vine. A squash ready to harvest will have a hard rind, which a fingernail will not pierce. The skin will lose its luster and appear dull. The stem will turn from green to tan and be "corky" looking. The bottom of the fruit touching soil will be cream to orange. Leave a short stem on the harvested fruit to prolong its storage life. Harvest before the first heavy freeze.

Use Storage Method 5. Cure winter squash at 80 to 85°F and 90 to 95% relative humidity for 10 days before placing them into long-term storage. Scatter the squash rather than storing them in a pile. Winter squash will store for 2 to 6 months. Do not cure acorn squash, as curing will toughen them. Use storage method 3 for acorn squash. They will keep only 1 to 2 months in storage.

Nutrition note: 1/2 cup cooked winter squash, all varieties, contains 40 calories and 2.9 grams of fiber. It is an excellent source of vitamin A (73% DV), a good source of vitamin C (16% DV), and a smaller source of folate (7% DV). Color = yellow/orange.

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