Squash is a hard-skinned vegetable family that is related to cucumbers and pumpkins. It is divided into two categories: summer squash and winter squash. Summer squash consists of varieties such as zucchini and yellow squash, while butternut is one of the most commonly consumed winter squashes. Butternut squash has a soft orange inside with a mild taste that can be prepared in both sweet and savory ways. They generally last about one month after they are harvested. To ensure you don’t consume a squash that is ready to rot, you can examine some key visual signs that indicate its freshness.
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Inspect the outside rind of the butternut squash. Ensure that it is shiny and even toned because any blemishes could be a beginning sign of decay.
Lift the butternut squash to feel its weight. If it feels remotely hollow or light, it has most likely gone bad–fresh butternut squash is sturdy because its flesh is soft and filled with moisture.
Press one of your fingers directly onto the surface of the butternut squash. The rind should not give at all to your touch or feel soft. Discard the squash if its rind has multiple soft patches.
Slice the butternut squash lengthwise down the center and inspect the inside. If the inner flesh contains any dark or mushy spots, discard it immediately.
Purchase a butternut squash that has a longer stem, rather than a stem that is cut extremely close to the vegetable–an overly close cropped stem can make the butternut squash go bad faster, according to the University of Illinois Extension.
If you think your butternut squash will go bad before you can eat it, freeze it for up to six months–just chop it into pieces, boil them until they are slightly soft, then mash them and place the mash into a freezer bag.
References and ResourcesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention: Squash
University of Illinois Extension: Winter Squash