How Long to Cure & How Long to Store Winter Squash for Peak Flavor & Eating Quality
More Tips on Timing
Different kinds of winter squash vary as to how long they take to cure after harvesting, how long before they achieve peak eating quality, and how long before that quality declines.
Whether you grow winter squash for your own consumption or to sell at markets, at the farmstand, or to place in your CSA boxes, you will want to know when your squash and edible pumpkins are at their best.
The chart below is designed to serve as a general guide to the storage potential of different types of winter squash.
Chart for Curing & Storing Different Winter Squash
|Click for KEY||MONTHS AFTER MATURITY/HARVEST|
|TYPE||1 Mo||2 Mo||3 Mo||4 Mo||5 Mo||6 Mo|
|Some red-skinned HUBBARDS, e.g., 'Red Kuri'|
|Some SPECIALTY PUMPKINS, e.g., 'Red October'|
|'Mini' KABOCHA, e.g.,
|Gray & Green KABOCHA, e.g.,
|Longest-storing KABOCHA, e.g.,
|KEY||Curing Period||Optimal Eating Period|
Tips for Timing Winter Squash Storage • When to Eat Which Kind
Many winter squash fruits appear to be mature before they are actually ready to harvest, and some require time in storage after harvest for best eating quality. For the best-quality squash, wait to harvest all types until they are mature — at least 50–55 days after the fruit has set — and cure before storing and eating.
Curing Winter Squash
After cutting the fruits from the vine, sun cure in the field for 5–7 days, or, cure indoors for 5–7 days at 80–85°F/27–29°C in an area with good air ventilation. (Learn more about proper Post-Harvest Handling and Storage of Classic Fall Storage Crops…)
As noted above, a good rule of thumb is to consume small-fruited types first. Read on for more tips on specific winter squash types.
The fruits of acorn types will have a dark-orange "ground spot" when mature. Fruits can be consumed at harvest, and eating quality is best within 2½ months of harvest.
Spaghetti squash, too, can be consumed right away after harvest, and will store only about 2½ months.
The fruits of these types, like acorn squash, often have a dark-orange "ground spot" when mature. Fruits can be consumed at harvest, and eating quality is best within 3 months of harvest.
Varieties such as 'Sunshine,' ,'Red Kuri,' and Shokichi types can be consumed at harvest, and will store up to 4 months. Dry, corky stems are a good indication of fruit maturity.
Fruits are best after 1–1½ months of storage, but will also store 4–6 months. Dry, corky stems are a good indication of fruit maturity.
Fruits are best after 1–2 months of storage, and will keep 4–6 months. (Because of its smaller size, 'Butterscotch PMR' is an exception; it can be consumed at harvest, and is best within 3 months of harvest.)