Pumpkins curing the in the sun on a deck

How To Cure Winter Squash For A Longer Shelf Life?

Pumpkins are one of our favourite things to grow in our garden. We made some videos on our social media talking about pumpkins and when to harvest them. This led to a lot of questions regarding how to prolong their shelf life after harvesting.

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We had pumpkins this year ready to be harvested at the end of August. Like most people who grow pumpkins we want them to be around during October for decorations or carving for Halloween.

With some very easy steps you can cure pumpkins so they will last for months on the shelf waiting for the right time to be used.

Since the same methods are used to prolong the shelf life of pumpkins as other winter squash, I’ve decided to write this, how to cure winter squash article, to help answer some common questions.

What Squash Is Considered A Winter Squash?

Pumpkin ready to be harvested.
Pumpkin ready to be harvested.

Winter squash, in general, is a favourite of many home gardeners because of how well it can be stored for use over the winter. This ability is why it’s called winter squash in the first place.

Whether you want to grow all of your own food or are just getting started, growing winter squash is a fun way to grow something new.

A winter squash is any squash that you grow during the summer months and store for use over the winter. Common types of winter squash are, pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash.

When Do You Harvest Winter Squash?

Winter squash are planted in the spring, grow through the summer, and are harvested in the fall for winter storage.

How Do You Harvest Winter Squash?

Your winter squash is ready to be harvested when the skin of the fruit is all the same colour. Whatever that colour may be. Orange for carving pumpkins, beige for butternut squash, or dark green for acorn squash. The skin should also be hard to pierce with your fingernail.

Once your squash meets these conditions it is ready to be harvested. To harvest take a clean pair of garden pruners and cut the fruit away from the vine as close to the vine as possible. Leave as much stem on the fruit as you can. This will help prolong the shelf life of the fruit.

Freshly harvested pumpkins
Freshly harvested pumpkins

How To Cure Winter Squash?

The best way to cure a pumpkin is to leave it in a warm sunny spot in your garden. Make sure it gets at least 6-8 hours of sun per day when the weather is at least 70°F (21°C). Rotate the pumpkin once a day to make sure all sides get direct sunlight. After a week to 10 days your squash should be cured and can be stored in a cool dry place for months.

How Does Curing Squash Work?

Curing help prolong the shelf life of squash by toughening up the outer rind of the squash. Keeping it in a warm sunny area help to make the squash “sweat” and dry out the outer skin. The curing process can also help in healing minor cuts in the squashes skin.

Can You Cure A Squash Indoors?

Squash can be cured indoors. To cure indoors keep the squash in a room at least 80°F (26.5°C) for a week to 10 days. Make sure the room has good ventilation and airflow.

How Do You Store Winter Squash?

Once cured, winter squash can be stored on a shelf if your pantry or in anther cool dry place, preferably around 50°F (10°C). Keep off the floor and away from heat and moisture for best results.

How Long Does Winter Squash Last When Storing?

How long winter squash lasts depends on what type of squash you are storing. Some last a couple of months and some will last up to a year. I’ll list the average storage times for common squash below but storage times may vary due to how well they were cured and the storage conditions.

10 month old butternut squash
10 month old butternut squash
Common Winter Squash Shelf Life After Curing:
  • Pumpkins: 2-3 months
  • Acorn Squash: 1-2 months
  • Butternut Squash: 5-6 months
  • Spaghetti Squash: 2-3 months

How Long Do Winter Squash Last Without Being Cured?

If you don’t want to cure your squash you don’t have to, but they won’t last for as long. An uncured squash will last anywhere from 2-4 weeks, or maybe a little longer. We always recommend curing your squash.

Growing winter squash is a great way to preserve food to get you and your family through the winter months with fresh homegrown vegetables.

You can bake cookies or muffins, make soups, or roast them on their own for nutritious meals. They are a staple in our garden and will be for years to come.

We hope you enjoyed this curing guide and if you did make sure you check out our growing guides and seed saving guides. We are expanding our website with more articles all the time, and we invite you to grow with us. If you have any questions about winter squash or would like to share some of your knowledge with us please leave a comment below.

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