November 22, 2008,
T.M. asks from Milford, MA on November 20, 2008
What Is the Shelf Life of Fresh Butternut Squash?
We have a very kind neighbour who has a garden and gave us a butternut squash about a month ago, if not more. It's still sitting on our counter! I am wondering if it is still good for consumption. It has not discoloured, it is still hard and firm everywhere, I've knocked on it and it sounds the same everywhere. I've performed these tests knowing absolutely nothing about how to check the freshness and ripeness of butternut squash, by the way. I have no idea of knowing if it is still good, just as I have no way of knowing what's a ripe, good butternut squash. Can anyone tell me the signs to look for so that I can know if I should try to cook this thing? I love squash but have always bought it all cut up and ready to go.
J.S. answers from Boston on November 21, 2008
I have a couple of oldies hanging out as well that I keep planning to make soup with.
Cut it open and give it a sniff! If it's not rotten (and that will be pretty obvious) it should be fine. Especially If you're goingto boil it.
If you have trouble getting a knife through it, nuke it for a minute or so to soften it up.
D.T. answers from Boston on November 21, 2008
It will be pretty obvious if it is not ok. Soft spots, etc.
Sometimes they can be tricky to cut, especially the long way. I either roast mine whole (just pierce it a few times and put a cookie sheet underneath to catch any drips) or cut it up into chunks (that way you can slice it into rounds first - about 1 - 1 1/2 inch pieces in a roasting pan with olive oil salt and pepper). Also, there are tons of good and easy butternut soup recipes.
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L.L. answers from Portland on November 20, 2008
hehehe tricky wicket yes?
The squash is fine. Sitting on the counter is NOT as good as in a cold place, cellar, near a door in a basket maybe.
You also can cut it up, blanche it ( steam in boiling water for three or four minutes, plunge in cold water, scrape the flesh from the rind, bag and freeze)
Squash stay good for months. Only thing is, sitting on a counter they may lose flavor.
If you are planning on having it for thanksgiving, we bake ours. Cut in half or sections, butter a cookie sheet with edges, ( or a pan with sides) put some brown sugar on melted butter ( one half to one stick depending on size of baking pan) place squash slices flesh side down, and cook for 25 to 40 minutes..stick with a fork to test for tenderness. When you turn them right side up then pour the butter/sugar liquid over the slices. Quite tasty.
Best regards and God bless
Grandmother Lowell ( a gardener)
Would have been also ok to ask the neighbor who gave it to you honey !!
1 mom found this helpful
C.T. answers from Boston on November 21, 2008
Your squash is fine. Mother Nature prepared it with a hard rind to keep it fresh throughout the long winter if stored properly. As long as it is firm, the squash is good.
Once you taste freshly prepared butternut squash, you will not be satisfied with the already peeled and cut up kind. Once the squash is peeled and cut, it has a very short shelf life and the nutrients and flavor begin to decline.
I like it best oven roasted. Peel, cut it up in largish cubes and toss in extra virgin olive oil. to lightly coat. Place on a sheet pan, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven until cooked and slightly browned. I do big mixed trays of potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, beets, and squash. So good.
J.A. answers from Boston on November 21, 2008
Butternut squash will last for months if stored in a cool, dark place.
As far as it turning bad. Like all other fresh vegatables, all the things you mentioned are accurate. If the squash is bad it will look bad. (mushy, moldy, withered, etc.) If the sqaush is pale yellow and firm it's good.
I love to simple cut the squash in half lengthwise score it and bake it at 350. The squash will take at least an hour to cook. I add a little brown sugar and butter in the last 15 minutes or so. Then just serve with the skin intact. The squash should be soft enough to scrape out of the skin right on the plated.
B.M. answers from Boston on November 21, 2008
I'm sure other people have answered you already, but it sounds fine. They last a long time.
K.D. answers from Boston on November 21, 2008
The nickname of butternut squash is "winter squash," which means it does last well into the winter. Yours is definitely still good for another couple of months! The easiest way I have found to cook it is to slice it in half, put it face-down on a baking sheet, and bake it for 45 minutes at 400. Then scoop out the seeds and it's easy to peel when cooked, also. Or, you can put it in the microwave for 20 minutes or so. Delicious!
S.Y. answers from Lewiston on November 21, 2008
Ahhh yes, the Butternut! Squash is to me, what nuts are to squirrels this time of year. In fact we have a major stash as the growing season provided excellent conditions. Just as you do, I love squash! And, for this particular type I have to admit, it's a favorite! Ripe Squash should be firm, evenly colored, and free of discolored blemishes. Freshly harvested this squash sometimes needs a sugering or ripening period for full flavor & color. Proper storage enhances flavor & color. Winter squash is best stored in a cool, dry/low humidity dark place to avoid bloom on the shell (commercial growers sometimes use wax to discourage this). Refridgeration is discouraged as it is COLD & DAMP. Only necessary when shell is removed and of course after cooking. Surface blemishes can be cut out with no real harm to the flavor. When cutting into fresh squash the membrane (stringy stuff holding seeds) and seeds should be moist and colorful. This indicates proper pollination, growth, ripening and storage conditions. In the short growing season we have here in Maine, Butternut Squash Blossoms adorn the perimiter of our Summer garden. In the Fall the golden, full figured fruits are held for months in our cool cellar. We also store (we have many) some in a large 3 tier basket near the kitchen doorway. Anticipation for it's delicate flavor could be one reason we savor some of the beautiful bounty of blossoms in late Spring and early Summer. Dredged in egg wash, flour of your choosing, S&P they are succulent and sweet. A perfect edible garnish for Pasta Premivera!! Traditionally speaking, butternut squash is a staple in our winter diet. Pureed squash is always right at the ready in our fridge or freezer. The versatility and possibilities are endless. True love for the Chefs whim. Used in appetizers, sides, entrees, or desserts, squash is stuffed, steamed, roasted, sauted and yes, gently boiled. The perfect squash puree IMO, cannot be accheived without a food mill. I am extremely turned off by DRY or lumpy, over or undercooked squash of any kind. From a professional standpoint all winter squash can be tricky to peel. And, for that matter can be UNSAFE for the novice. For this, there are acceptable short cuts. Washed, cut in half and seeded the squash can now be placed in a roasting pan cut side down. Add 1/4 in. of boiling water or stock to the pan. Place it in a preheated 350 to 400 degree oven and prick with fork for doneness. Squash should be tender almost as easy to prick as butter. About 20 mins. Remove squash RESERVE COOKING LIQUID, cool just enough to handle unless you have tongs to secure it. Scoop squash out of shell and add to a FOOD MILL! Process squash and check it's consistancy. Add some of the cooking liquid to the puree with a few pats of BUTTER salt & pepper (pepper is optional and not used for sweet puree) continue to add the reserved liquid until preference is achived. How about Creamed Butternut Soup with that puree? Or no time for any of this? Prepare the squash as for roasting grease it up with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and stuff it! I like wild rice and sweet sausage stuffing with the Butternut. Served with a green salad and a good wine this is a beautiful just for two adult meal. For the kiddos my 3 year old (an adventurous eater) will tell you she is not SQUASH ready yet. However, she eats my mac n cheese (laden with squash puree) like there's no tommorrow!
T., I hope this helps.
Thank you for indulging my passions with this question. I have been gardening since the age of two! I keep bees and LOVE cooking as a professional or privately.
J.B. answers from Boston on November 21, 2008
They last a long time. Cut it open and as long as there are no signs of rotting on the inside you are fine to eat it. You should refrigerate or cook it after cutting it open though.
J.B. answers from Boston on November 21, 2008
they are a winter squash, so they are supposed to live through the winter. As long as there are no spots, you are good.