Brown blotches on Butternut Squash

rustico_2009November 7, 2011

Hello everyone, my name is Russell. I've been gleaning much great info from the forum for awhile and finally have my first panic button question.

The butternut squash I have harvested about a month ago is great except for brown streaks and blotches coming out with storage time on the skin.It's less than 25% of the surface. They are otherwise solid and delicious even in the brown skinned areas. Great inside ripeness and texture.

It might be sunburn catching up with them or something? Can Is there a legit way to discuss this positively or just say they're ugly but good? Will/should it kill my sales?

( I will have samples cut open on the table at the FM). I have been selling them to restaurant people who are happy with them, but the deliveries will be getting a larger percent of this brown problem.

Thanks for any response,

Russell

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myfamilysfarm

When I find the blotches, I'm ready to cook them. I'm not sure if it the beginning of rot starting or not, but the sales definitely fall off.

I would recommend cooking and freezing the pulp.

Sorry to tell you this.

Marla

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 6:50PM
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rustico_2009

Thanks Marla,

Ouch! I have a few thousand pounds left!
Most of them don't have it...or don't have much of it. It does look like they are not going bad fast, but some are ugly and more will likely follow.I am going to stagger them next year and plant most of them later since my storage is not near ideal temps until about now, it got hot in there a few times. I am sure that's what happened. Live and learn.

I'll start donating to food pantries right away. The restaurants will get the blemish free ones for as long as I have them. The FM will be an experiment. I am going to be honest about remaining shelf life, but try to sell some. They really are delicious.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 7:23PM
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myfamilysfarm

If stored correctly, winter squash can store for up to 6 months. That's what I tell my customers. When they ask what the ideal storage conditions are? I tell them, if they have a place where potatoes don't sprout, that's great for winter squash. Not many people have root cellars anymore, so other places will have to made do.

Your squash will probably last maybe another month, but as soon as you can, get them into a cool, dry area, darker the better. If ANY start to get a soft spot, cook it soon, just cut out the soft spot.

Perhaps you can sell them at a discount? maybe 1/2 price or so. Tell your customers that they are getting a deal and all they have to do is take the squash home, bake a bunch of them. Scoop the squash out and place into zip-lock type of bags and freeze. This makes an easy to warm up side dish.

Good luck

Marla

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 6:58PM
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rustico_2009

I agree the squash can last a lot longer under ideal conditions.These were to be sold by Christmas and they lasted much longer than that last year in the same place, but less tightly packed since there were much fewer.

Discounting could work, probably not right now for me though. Not sure on this yet, so a revision could come into play. Thanks for the good ideas on that, though.

I explained the shelf life issue to the food pantry manager and they will take the ones I am uncomfortable selling but are still too good to throw away.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 12:23AM
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myfamilysfarm

You do need ventilation between them, and also need to check them a minimum of 1x per week. At that time, pull the 'ripest' ones to use first. I gave alot of mine away to the food bank last year. so many that some were given to cows as food. So if you have a cow/pig/chicken farmer nearby, the animals LOVE them. Just crack them open and before long they are gone. The cows and pigs, eat the all, the chickens peck out the entire insides just leaving the shell.

Around this farm, nothing goes to waste, and the animals are fed quite well. They get everything that is now up to my standards, which are quite high. The last couple of years, we have went and bought pumpkins during the gult times and held them for the animals. One of the best things that we have done, is to get a few animals. I rather feed the livestock instead of the raccoons and opposums.

Marla

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 7:26AM
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rustico_2009

I have some ideas for building more racks with good air flow, but in my climate, it really will be easier just to stagger planting/harvesting. Way less moving them around. I'll hold on to less for January and February.

Wasting stuff from the garden is terrible. I sometimes trade culled material for rabbit manure. We have chickens and I am expanding on that.They do get a few culls and we even have weeds they love. The dog loves watermelon.

We are definitely in a slow building up phase, so who knows what will catch on? Some of it depends on what my wife and kids, and even some friends or customers get into. Not saying anything new, it is easier and more enjoyable if the enthusiasm gets spread around. The bigger chicken flock was my 8 year old kid's idea. His mom is on board with it so all that is good.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 3:45PM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

I found this excellent article about storing winter squash.

I would not store with potatoes as taters need really humid conditions (95%) and squash b=need it drier (no more than 75%) and squash can be stored in light conditions.

Here is a link that might be useful: winter squash storage

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 4:58AM
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myfamilysfarm

What I posted is how I store them, if I have any left, I have kept 1 butternut for 2 years. Lost it behind other things, the skin was too tough to cut with regular knife.

Marla

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 7:18AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

I find washing the squashes really well with water and cloth (I use a green pad) so you get all the dirt and fungal spores off the skin is very important.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 5:27AM
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cowpie51

If your butternut squash is solid and delicious even under the brown streaked area this could be ground stains or skin pigment issue and is perfectly fine to sell. I doubt if it is black rot or you would have rotten flesh. Mark

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 7:02AM
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rustico_2009

The article was interesting, boulderbelt.
One sentence made me wonder if it is a mistake to emphasize the shelf life too much at market. From the article: "When winter squash are removed from storage, they should be marketed or consumed immediately, as rot can develop quickly".

Changes in culinary aspects with storage was also mentioned, not sure what to think about that. They certainly are getting very orange and sweet.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 10:01AM
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myfamilysfarm

I always say "up to" a certain amount of time, that covers anything up to and not beyond. Also, with proper storage conditions. Not everyone can keep things as long or as well as others.

Marla

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 6:59PM
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rustico_2009

O.K.

We have are down to the last 600 pounds of the squash I mentioned in the OP of this thread... Now I am finding so many have a partially hollow necked! I can tell by feel if they are hollow and am culling them. Good thing it's almost gone.

Is this genetic or are they drying out? I notice it in a much lower lower percentage of squash earlier on. If it was genetic it seems I would have notice more of it earlier. Again, last year same storage not one squash did this.

All are still very delicious. So far rave reviews from FM and chef.

What the hay?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 9:50PM
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rustico_2009

O.K. did a little reading and am convinced they are drying out. It could have been worse.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 10:12PM
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myfamilysfarm

I've never seen that, but this year has been very dry for most people.

Marla

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 3:55PM
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