You’ve 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 the next weekend.
Or maybe you plan on making a casserole on a busy weekday.
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 that sounds interesting, read on.
How To Store Butternut Squash
Once you get the butternut squash home, you should store it in a cool and dry place.
The second best option is the pantry with a slightly lower than room temperature or the kitchen.
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 (the same is true for pumpkins).
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 you’re going with the bag, remember to squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing it.
If you’ve already cooked your butternut squash, the fridge is the go-to place too.
Transfer the cooked pieces to 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.
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. It’s also a decent solution if you know 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, doing it overnight in the refrigerator is the safest way.
How Long Does Butternut Squash Last
In terms of shelf life, butternut squash lasts quite a while, just like spaghetti squash does.
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 an extra month or even longer.
Once you’ve sliced the fresh winter squash, it will stay fresh for about 5 to 6 days before its quality starts to degrade.
When it comes to cooked butternut squash, it should remain at peak quality for a similar period. If the veggie is a part of a dish, it depends on other ingredients.
|Whole butternut squash||1 – 2 months|
|Sliced/chopped butternut squash||5 – 6 days|
|Cooked butternut squash||4 – 5 days|
Please note that the periods above are estimates and for the best quality.
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 or rotten 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.
If the whole squash 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 or rotten spots, you can cut them out (and then some). If they are quite large, discard the whole thing whatsoever.
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.
Next, 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.