Does Butternut Squash Go Bad?

So you bought butternut squash for a soup or stew you wanted to try out this weekend. Unfortunately, your plans changed, and you need to postpone cooking that dish for a week.

You know that butternut squash will eventually go bad but aren’t sure if it will still be fresh next weekend.

Or maybe you plan on making a casserole for supper on a weekday. You know that the day will be super busy, so you want to prepare as much as you can ahead of time. And that includes cutting the veggies, so you don’t have to bother with that.

The thing is, you’re not certain what’s the best way to store sliced butternut squash, or how long you can refrigerate it before it starts to become slimy.

If either of the situations sounds familiar, this article is for you. In it, we go through storage, shelf life, and going bad of this winter squash. If you’re interested in that, read on.

Two butternut squash halves
Two butternut squash halves

How To Store Butternut Squash

Once you get the butternut squash home, you should store it in a cool and dry place.

Similarly to eggplant, it’s best if you store butternut squash at 50° to 60°F (or 10 to 15°C). Unfortunately, hardly anyone has access to a pantry or a cellar with the suggested temp. The second best option is the pantry with a slightly lower than room temperature and the kitchen.

Tip

Refrigerating butternut squash is not recommended as the texture of the veggie will suffer.

If the squash is in any packaging, remove it. Also, make sure it doesn’t sit near any fruits that are about to ripen (e.g., bananas), as the ethylene they produce will shorten the shelf life of the squash.

Butternut squash on its side
Butternut squash on its side

Once you cut open the squash and slice or chop it, you should keep the pieces in the refrigerator. Put them in an airtight container, freezer bag, or wrap them in aluminum foil. If going with the bag, remember to squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing it.

If you’ve already cooked the squash, the fridge is the go-to place too. Transfer the cooked pieces in freezer bags or airtight containers. If needed, you can add a label with the date to easily keep track of how long it sits there.

Butternut squash cubed
Butternut squash cubed

Can You Freeze Butternut Squash?

Butternut squash is a seasonal product, and it is only available during the colder months. If you’d like to enjoy it when it’s not in season, freezing is an option. Same thing if you expect you won’t be able to finish the squash before it goes bad.

Like with many veggies, it’s best if you cook the butternut squash and then freeze it. Make your favorite cooked squash recipe for dinner and freeze the leftovers.

For freezing, use airtight containers and portion all the cooked squash, so you can easily thaw as much as you need for a single meal.

When it comes to thawing, overnight in the refrigerator is the safest way, but if you’re short on time there are other options too.

Butternut squash standing
Butternut squash standing

How Long Does Butternut Squash Last

In terms of shelf life, butternut squash belongs to the group of veggies that don’t go bad in quite a while, just like onions do.

Whole fresh butternut squash should keep in the pantry or kitchen cabinet for a month, or even a bit more. If you have a cold pantry or cellar where the temperature is near the ideal temp mentioned earlier, it can last a month longer or even more.

Cutting butternut squash on a wooden cutting board
Cutting butternut squash on a wooden cutting board

Once you’ve sliced the fresh winter squash, it will stay fresh for about 4 to 5 days before its quality starts to degrade.

When it comes to cooked butternut squash, it should remain at peak quality for a day or two longer than the fresh sliced one. If the veggie is a part of a dish, it depends on other ingredients.

 PantryFridge
Whole butternut squash1 – 2 months 
Sliced/chopped butternut squash 4 – 5 days
Cooked butternut squash 5 – 7 days

Please note that the periods above are estimates and for the best quality.

Inside of a butternut squash
Inside of a butternut squash

How to Tell If Butternut Squash Is Bad?

You should start by checking the rind. It should be firm, fairly even in color, and without any mushy spots.

Of course, if there are only a few small squishy or damaged spots, you can cut them out as you do with other veggies. However, if the whole thing has started leaking liquid, feels hollow or empty inside, or is mushy, just throw it out.

If the outer layer seems to be okay, it’s time to cut into the squash. Given that the flesh has the usual color and texture, it’s okay to use it.

If there are any small mushy spots, you can cut them out (and then some). If they are quite large, discard the whole thing whatsoever.

Note

If the squash is stored for a long time, the part with the seeds can start to look somewhat stringy and generally gross. That’s normal, just cut it out and enjoy the rest.

When it comes to cut butternut squash, if it sits in the fridge for more than a week, or its quality is no longer acceptable, it’s time to throw it out.

For cooked winter squash, look for any signs of mold or an off smell. Sometimes the veggie gets accidentally contaminated before you refrigerate it, and it will grow mold after a day or two in the fridge. If that’s the case, throw out the contents of the whole container.