See also: Article on Winter Squash
SELECTION - Winter squash comes in many sizes. Pick a size based on your cooking needs. For a quality squash, choose one that has a smooth, dry rind and is free of cracks or soft spots. Skin that is easily nicked or scraped with a fingernail means that the squash did not reach maturity. Look for rind that has a dull appearance. A shiny rind indicates that is has been picked too early or has a wax coating, which masks the skin and makes it inedible when cooked. Choose squash that has a deep color and is heavy for its size. It is also best to choose squash with a firm, rounded, dry stem. Squash with no stem permits bacteria to enter.
Cut pieces can be found in the grocery market. Choose pieces that have a good interior color and finely-grained flesh that is not fibrous. Ideal flesh should be barely moist, but not too dry or too watery.
STORAGE - Winter squash has a long shelf life and can be stored for up to 3 months or longer in a cool, dry place between 55º and 60ºF. A higher temperature will shorten storage time, but it will not alter the flavor. Storage temperatures below 50ºF (as in a refrigerator) will cause squash to spoil more rapidly. If the squash needs to be refrigerated, it can be stored for 1 to 2 weeks. Cut pieces of squash should be tightly wrapped and refrigerated. Cooked, pureed squash can be frozen for use later as a side dish or to thicken, color, or flavor soups, sauces, or stews.
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