If you cut squash, you may not be able to use it all at once. You may prefer to store the excess for later use.
But can you cut squash ahead of time?
- Cutting and Storing Squash in Advance
- Understanding Types of Squash to Store Them Properly
- Steps to Cut and Store Squash
- How to Use Stored Squash?
Cutting and Storing Squash in Advance
Cutting and storing squash in advance is a convenient and practical way to save time when cooking this vegetable.
Cut squash stores well in the refrigerator for a few days. You can also freeze it if you want to store it for much longer.
There are different varieties of squash, and each variety has its distinct defining characteristics.
Let’s briefly look at them.
Understanding Types of Squash to Store Them Properly
The commonly available varieties of squash include the following.
Butternut squash is one of the most readily available varieties of squash.
It has a smooth exterior with tan color and golden-yellow flesh. Butternut squash is usually abundant in winter.
You can roast, grill, or stew this vegetable.
Spaghetti squash has a distinct texture that resembles strands of spaghetti when cooked.
Due to this characteristic feature, it’s widely used as an alternative to pasta.
This squash has a delicious nutty flavor.
Acorn squash is a small green squash with ridges on the skin. It has a delicate nutty flavor.
You can roast or bake this squash.
Other Common Squash Varieties
Apart from the varieties mentioned above, you will also find zucchini and summer squashes in the market.
Both are widely used in soups, stews, casseroles, and other recipes.
Steps to Cut and Store Squash
Different types of squash share various common traits. So you can cut and store them in the same way.
Let’s explore the different tips and tricks to cut these vegetables and store them for later use.
1. Prepare the Squash
Before cutting squash, you should wash and dry this vegetable thoroughly.
This will get rid of any dirt or debris on the surface.
After rinsing the whole squash under running water, dry it well with a kitchen towel.
Cut off the base part of the stem to make it sit steadily on the chopping board.
2. Cut the Squash Into Squares
To cut the squash, make a large incision along its length. It should extend from the tip to the base.
Cut through this incision so that the squash splits in half. This will reveal the center with the seeds and pulp.
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp.
If the recipe requires peeling, you can get rid of the skin. Then, slice or cube the squash into pieces of desired size.
3. Store the Squash in The Refrigerator
Once you cut any vegetable, the flesh is exposed to air and moisture.
It’s important to use it quickly or store it carefully at this stage.
Leaving it out will either dry the flesh or make it soggy, depending on the type of vegetable.
Exposure to environmental elements will also cause bacterial growth in the vegetable.
It can also attract flies and other tiny insects.
The easiest way to refrigerate cut squash is in an airtight container or bag.
Transfer the cut pieces into an airtight bag and press it down to expel all the trapped air.
Then, seal the top and place it in the crisper compartment of the refrigerator.
You can also store it in an airtight container with a lid that seals tightly.
You can place cut squash in any part of the refrigerator.
However, there is a specific advantage of storing it in the crisper.
This compartment is specially designed to remain humid. So it’s the best place to store fresh produce.
Squash will hold up for three to four days when you keep it in the refrigerator immediately after cutting it.
It’s not wise to wait much longer since the texture will change, and it can lose its original flavor.
4. Freeze Cut Squash for Long-Term Storage
If you want to cut and store squash for a long time, it’s best to freeze it.
Frozen squash will hold up for several months.
To do this, spread the chopped pieces on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Place the tray in the freezer and let it sit for two to three hours.
By this time, the squash will freeze and become solid.
Transfer the frozen pieces into a bag or a freezer-safe container.
If you use a bag, press down to expel any remaining air from the bag.
If you use a container, leave enough space on the top for expansion.
5. Thaw the Squash for Use
You can directly add refrigerated squash to dishes.
It will not lose its original texture if you use it up quickly.
However, if you store the squash in the freezer, thaw it before use.
The squash will reach room temperature in a few hours if you leave it on the counter.
You can also thaw it in the refrigerator overnight for better results.
Allowing the squash enough time to thaw will ensure that it thaws evenly without any frozen bits.
Nonetheless, frozen squash will not have the same texture as fresh squash. It will contain more moisture.
You can use it in most recipes that call for fresh squash.
However, it’s better suited for cooking in dishes like stews, soups, and casseroles than roasting or grilling.
6. Store Whole Squash on The Counter
Most varieties of squash, like butternut squash and acorn squash, hold up for a few days when you store it whole.
If you just brought it home from the market, you can store it outside for a few days.
Supermarket varieties will usually have a wax coating to extend their lifespan.
Hence, these hold up even longer than the ones you buy at a farmer’s market.
The ideal storage temperature for squash is between 50°F to 60°F.
Whole butternut squash will last for up to two months at this temperature when you store it in a dry and well-ventilated area.
There are not many benefits to storing whole squash in the refrigerator.
The cold temperature and dry environment of the refrigerator don’t extend its shelf-life significantly.
It may instead affect the texture and make the squash dry and hard.
However, once you cut the squash, refrigeration is essential.
Exposure to air and humidity will quickly alter the texture of the squash’s flesh.
To retain its original texture and flavor for much longer, refrigerate the excess.
To store a large piece of cut squash, you can wrap it in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place it in the crisper.
But the better approach is to slice or cube it and store the pieces in an airtight container.
How to Use Stored Squash?
You can use refrigerated and frozen squash, just like fresh squash.
With proper refrigeration, the texture will not be too affected.
So it’s suitable for most recipes, including soups, stews, and casseroles. You can also grill or roast it.
However, frozen squash becomes soft when it thaws. It loses its original thickness.
You can still use it in various ways. But the best option would be to add it to soups and stews.