How to Store Acorn Squash for Maximum Flavor and Shelf Life

Acorn squash is a popular variety of winter squash, a group of squashes that have tougher skins and a longer shelf life.

Depending on how and where you store it, acorn squash can have a shelf life ranging from a few days to 3 months or longer. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how to store acorn squash in any form (whole, cut, or cooked) for maximum flavor and shelf life.

How to store whole acorn squash

Whole, uncut acorn squash should be stored in a cool, dark, dry location for the longest shelf-life.

Storing whole acorn squash in the pantry

For most people, the pantry, cellar, or enclosed kitchen cabinet is the most logical cool, dark, and dry place to store whole acorn squash.

How long can acorn squash be stored?

When stored at the ideal temperature (50-60°F or 10-15°C), you can expect acorn squash to stay fresh for 2-3 months (1).

You can also store acorn squash at room temperature (68°F or 20°C), but it won’t last quite as long — up to 2 months (1). 

However, if you live in a warmer climate with high humidity, acorn squash may not stay fresh for more than a few weeks (2).

Does acorn squash need to be washed before storage?

Washing acorn squash with hot water while scrubbing its skin may help eliminate mold spores and extend its shelf life (1). 

Most acorn squash from the grocery store has already been washed and coated with food grade wax to lock in moisture and protect against mold.

However, if you grow your own acorn squash and plan to store it for more than a month or so, it might be worth washing and waxing before storing.

Does acorn squash need to be cured before storage?

Unlike other winter squash, acorn squash does not need to be cured (3).

Curing is a process that involves exposing winter squash to warm temperatures (80-85°F) for 1-2 weeks. This allows excess moisture to evaporate and helps harden the squash’s skin to increase its shelf life (4).

Most winter squash is cured immediately after harvesting, before being transported to grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

However, acorn squash is the one exception, as curing may actually reduce its shelf life (4).

Can you store acorn squash in the fridge?

No, whole acorn squash should not be stored in the fridge. Temperatures below 50°F (10°C) can cause chill damage that negatively impacts the taste and texture of the squash (1).

How to store cut acorn squash

Acorn squash should be refrigerated once it has been peeled, sliced, or chopped, in order to slow bacterial growth and keep it fresh longer.

Raw acorn squash that has been peeled and cut should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and used promptly (within a few days).

How to store cooked acorn squash

Once cooked, acorn squash must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to slow down spoilage.

Storing cooked acorn squash in the fridge

Acorn squash should always be refrigerated after cooking in order to reduce bacterial growth and the risk of food poisoning.

Like most foods, cooked acorn squash should be refrigerated within 2 hours after cooking and is safe to eat for 3-4 days (5, 6).

Storing cooked acorn squash in the freezer

Freezing acorn squash is an excellent way to extend its shelf-life and preserve its flavor while providing a convenient vegetable option for later use.

Ideally, acorn squash should be cooked before storing in the freezer, because it can become mushy if frozen raw (7).

To do this, start by peeling the squash, removing the seeds, and cutting the flesh into cubes or slices. These pieces can then be boiled, steamed, or roasted and seasoned if desired.

For best results, puree the cooked acorn squash and store in an airtight container in the freezer. It’s also okay to freeze the cooked acorn squash in pieces, but they tend to be mushy when thawed.

If you decide to freeze raw acorn squash, place the peeled and diced squash on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and freeze until solid. Then, transfer them to an airtight container or bag and return to the freezer. 

Frozen acorn squash is best if used within 3-4 months. After 4 months, it’s still safe to eat but may start to lose some of its flavor and texture (6). 

When ready to use, simply thaw frozen acorn squash overnight in the refrigerator or microwave on low heat before using. 

How to tell if acorn squash is bad

If you’ve followed all of these storage steps and you aren’t sure if your acorn squash has gone bad, here are 6 key signs your acorn squash is past its prime.

Has your acorn squash turned orange? It is technically still edible but may taste dry, stringy, and bland. You may be better off composting it.

Final thoughts

Acorn squash is a versatile and nutritious winter squash with a long shelf life. Whole acorn squash can be stored in a cool, dark, and dry pantry for 2-3 months.

Don’t store whole acorn squash in the refrigerator, because it can develop chill damage at temperatures below 50°F (10°C).

Peeled, cut, or cooked acorn squash can be refrigerated and used within a few days, or frozen for 3-4 months or longer. 

Following these simple tips will ensure that your acorn squash is fresh and flavorful every time!

Amy Richter is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Missouri. She is an experienced nutrition writer and medical advisor for Healthline and Medical News Today.  Amy is passionate about all things food-related and enjoys translating complex science into easy-to-understand articles.

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