Pumpkin is one of those annual fruits that are available in multiple seasons of the year. Some are overwhelmed by the amount of pumpkin they produce and find different ways to store them. So here we are discussing how to store pumpkin!
You may be wondering how summer squash compares to winter squash in this regard. Perhaps you already know that certain methods work best for one or the other, or you may have decided to grow kabocha, pumpkin, or butternut for the first time.
One thing is for sure, if you successfully harvest, cure, and store your pumpkin, you can enjoy it all year round. Spaghetti squash in summer or zucchini all winter long is possible! Harvesting these fruits before the first frost and after the last frost is easy, as is the ripening process. There are also plenty of storage options.
Wondering how to store pumpkin? We have options for you. Source: Ruth and Dave
You should stay vigilant when it comes to safety, especially when it comes to canning, preserving, or fermenting food. Improper storage can lead to illness. The CDC has a guide to home canning and botulism. If you are unfamiliar with any of these methods, read this guide first.
Another excellent resource for long-term food storage is the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Your guide to long term storage is great. Read this to learn how to make your gardening endeavors last longer. Properly follow the guidelines before embarking on this endeavor.
How to store winter squash
After you harvest winter squash, weed out any that have soft spots or a little thing on the surface. These should be removed from long-term storage and consumed or composted immediately.
After you harvest winter squash, wipe it with a dry cloth to remove dirt and debris. Cure winter squash in an area at temperatures of 70 to 85 degrees with a relative humidity of 80 to 85 percent. Make sure the fruit is in a single layer. Some guides recommend curing pumpkin in the garden in sunlight. While this is great for some regions, it can be too cold in others.
Proper curing of these winter fruits gives them a hardened protective layer that keeps mold and rot away. It also promotes sweeter and more pleasant flavors by increasing the levels of natural sugar in the pulp. Curing also reduces the fruit's breathing rate, which makes it easier to keep it long-term.
Harvest all of the pumpkin on the vine before the first frost of the growing season. Heal both fully ripe and unripe pumpkins. This will prevent the fruits you grow from rotting and give you more fodder for cooking experiments.
Provide good air circulation around the fruit with either a window grille or a structure made of chicken wire. A root cellar is a great place to cure and store pumpkin from your pre-winter harvest. Properly ripened, fully ripened pumpkin is such a treat.
Different winter pumpkins require different ripening times after harvest. Some do not require curing time at all.
For example, pumpkins or pie squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, delicata squash, and a few others are ready to eat right after harvest. Delicata squash in particular has such a thin rind that it can be eaten directly with the meat. Butternut squash, hubbard, great kabocha squash, and lakota squash have specific ripening times. It is important to heal them so that the skin can eventually grow together into edible fruits.
Here is a list of the times it takes for each winter variety that needs to be ripened:
- Butternut: 2 to 6 weeks
- Hubbard: 4 weeks
- Large Kabocha: 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the variety
- Lakota: 1 to 2 weeks
Store in a dry place
Proper curing of your winter squash is essential for storage. Source: Seacoast Eat Local
Winter squash can be stored dry for up to 6 months, depending on the variety. They won't last as long in a place with higher humidity than your average kitchen or colder. Keep them this way if you don't want to bear the extra cost of canning, fermenting, and canning.
Since whole pumpkins are best kept in a place with good air circulation at room temperature, the refrigerator is not a good option for long-term storage. However, cooked or pureed winter squash will keep in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
Obviously, this isn't a great option for long-term storage, but it's a great way to enjoy the pumpkin several times in a week.
Winter squash is very easy to freeze. Store in plastic bags or an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months. Butternut squash stored in the freezer can then be used in soups and bread recipes. Note that you need to remove the skin before storing it in the freezer. Freezer containers are great for storing winter fruits.
To dehydrate winter squash, peel the skin, cut it in half, and remove the seeds and stem. Save the seeds for next year's garden, or enjoy toasted and flavored. Cut the entire pumpkin into ¼ inch strips and steam until tender (about 3 minutes). Then dehydrate them at 140 degrees for 2 to 3 hours. Reduce the temperature to 130 degrees and let the pumpkin dry until it is brittle. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Use this method if you have access to a dehydrator or low temperature oven.
Winter squash can be freeze-dried. It is best to cook the pumpkin using your preferred method before freeze-drying, as the firm pulp will reconstitute better if it is pre-cooked. This can extend other storage methods such as smoked pumpkins. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for your device.
Pumpkins can be stored whole after hardening. Source: Daniel Gasteiger
Winter squash in cans do not keep at room temperature because they are low-acid foods. For these storage methods, it's important not to puree a winter squash. Any pickled or canned winter squash should be treated like fresh food and kept in the refrigerator – never at room temperature, which is too warm for low-acid foods.
The result of soaking and storing winter squash in a warm room is botulism.
Pumpkins, acorn squash, and butternut squash can be quickly pickled and kept in the refrigerator for about a week. Skin the pumpkin, remove the stem and seeds. Then cut into slices or dice.
Make your favorite brine with equal parts of vinegar and sugar and boil the pumpkin in the brine before adding it to your glass. Let cool and close tightly for the refrigerator.
Although this method requires access to a smoker, it is the most delicious way to enjoy winter squash. However, it won't last long. Smoked winter squash should be eaten immediately or 1 to 2 days after preparation.
After you've cured your pumpkin, cut it in half and remove the seeds and stem. Season it and lightly wrap it in foil by poking holes in the area where the seminal cavity is located. This provides ventilation and air circulation that allows the smoke to penetrate the skin.
Soak the pumpkin in the smoker or your preferred consistency for 1½ to 2 hours at temperatures of 225 to 230 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve whole or in slices and add butter and other seasonings.
While there is no need to ferment winter squash, it is possible to do so. It is important to be on the safe side and treat all canned winter squash as fresh food, rather than one that can withstand long-term storage without spoilage.
Use a pumpkin that is easy to cut into bite-sized pieces. Dip it in brine, then transfer it to a can that has been pressure-sealed or has a fermentation seal. Let it ferment in the refrigerator.
Winter squash is great in chutneys, with raisins, cinnamon, and garlic. Properly fermented winter squash will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 year. Consume within one month after opening.
Canned winter squash must be packed in pressurized cans because it is a low-acid food. It's important to dice the winter squash rather than puree it. You can always puree it later if you want to use it.
This method requires access to a pressurized dispenser, seals, lids, and a tool to remove air bubbles. These aren't incredibly expensive, but they can cost around $ 100 on the lower end. You also need space in your kitchen for canned pumpkins and other winter pumpkins. Use a tested and safe recipe from the National Center For Home Food Preservation.
Store winter squash in cans for 3 years. Properly preserved winter squash can also have a shelf life of up to 5 or 6 years. These cans are perfectly fine at room temperature, but once you open them keep an eye on them and use them quickly.
This is how you store summer squash
Summer squash is an excellent choice for dehydrating or freeze drying. Source: danbruell
Although winter squash needs to be cured, summer squash has a much thinner skin and doesn't need to be cured. And although you can store winter squash for a long time in the whole state, this does not necessarily apply to summer varieties.
Spaghetti squash may look like it needs to be a cured squash, but in fact, it can be eaten straight away.
Since we are in a different stadium here, you should know that you can harvest wet fruit and consume it right away. Wet fruits have a high water content.
Zucchini squash, summer squash, and other pumpkins that ripen in summer all fall into this category. They are abundant in your garden, but they won't last as long in dry conditions.
A good rule of thumb is that summer squash doesn't need to be hardened, while some winter squash do need to be hardened. Try curing summer squash (even spaghetti squash) and you will find that they go bad pretty quickly compared to winter varieties. So let's save you extra work and help you get more out of your garden by discussing how to save summer squash for storage.
Store in a dry place
Since summer squash will never be a cured pumpkin, it will not keep for long if stored in a dry place. The shelf life of pumpkin from a summer harvest is no more than two weeks. Pumpkin stored at room temperature will lose its flavor over time, even if it's still good.
The summer squash is even shorter for storage in the refrigerator. Pumpkin stored in the refrigerator will only last a few days in a perforated bag with a towel to trap moisture. If you keep summer pumpkin in the refrigerator, use it up quickly.
Summer squash can be frozen, but is softer and more tender than winter varieties. Use it in soups and casseroles where structural integrity is not required. Your summer squash shop won't last longer than six months in an airtight container or plastic bag in the freezer.
Summer squash has a short shelf life, but is easy to freeze. Source: barbbarbbarb
If you have access to a dehydrator, cut your summer crop ¼ inch thick and dry it at 135 degrees for six hours. Then cool them down. You can even blanch them by boiling them for about a minute and then soaking them in ice water. They can be kept for 1 to 2 months.
This is a great method if you have space and access. If not, try pickling!
Summer squash can be freeze-dried raw or cooked. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for your device.
Pickled cucumbers are a great summer treat full of vitamin C. Make a brine of salt, sugar, and vinegar and pour it into jars with about an inch of head clearance with skewered cucumbers, garlic, crushed red pepper, and peppercorns. Then close the jars tightly and in a few days you will have cucumbers.
As long as you have enough jars for your harvest, this is a great way to enjoy them for a few months afterward.
Since the pulp of summer pumpkin varieties is more tender, you cannot smoke it in a smoker. Use a closed grill instead. Spread zucchini or yellow gourd sticks with your favorite high temperature oil and spices. Grill either directly on the grill or on aluminum foil for a few minutes on each side and enjoy immediately.
To ferment pumpkin in hot weather, follow the quick soak instructions above and let them cool with the tops weighted down at room temperature for 3 to 4 weeks rather than refrigerating them. Check them regularly as they cool and remove any jars that contain slimy or damaged fruit or mold. Then close and store unopened for 4 to 6 months at room temperature. Consume within one month after opening.
This method is ideal for those who have access to storage space and lockable jars.
Hot weather water-soaked pumpkin cannot be canned as it is. However, it can be used in relishes. Use a boiler canner to properly seal your cans. Cut or shred your pumpkin and combine it with other ingredients. Then simmer in your liquid base for 20 minutes. Seal them in a boiler canister and store them unopened for 3 to 5 years. Eat within a week.
This method is best for those who have access to a kettle boiler.
frequently asked Questions
Some storage methods require you to process your pumpkin. Source: cold_pinguin1952
Q: Does pumpkin need to be refrigerated?
A: It depends on the pumpkin. Some hot-weather varieties require refrigeration, while thick-skinned varieties can be stored at room temperature.
Q: How long can pumpkin be stored?
A: Again, this depends on the thickness of the skin. If you harden pumpkin on chicken wire, it can take a few months. If it has thin skin, it can hold at room temperature for about a week.
Q: How do you prepare pumpkin for storage?
A: Heal pumpkin from your fall harvest. Others should be washed and eaten quickly.
Q: How long does cooked pumpkin keep in the refrigerator?
A: All varieties can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days.
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