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How to Tell If Butternut Squash Is Bad?

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Butternut squash is a healthy food that goes great in pasta, salads, or as a meat substitute. It’s hearty and delicious.

But how do you know if butternut squash is bad?

Typically, the easiest way to tell that a butternut squash is bad is when the squash starts to develop squishy spots on its skin.

If you feel the squash and the skin feels soft in some areas, buy another one and throw the squishy squash in the trash.

Other ways to tell if the squash is bad are to check the smell and how the squash looks once you cut it open.

Learning how to tell a good squash from a bad one will help you avoid using rotten squash, which can ruin a recipe and, at worst, make you sick.

Here are some tips on spotting bad squash and what you can do to keep your food fresh for longer.

Slice Butternut squash on black plate on white table

How Long Does It Take for Butternut Squash to Go Bad?

People like buying and cooking with squash because, generally, they’re affordable products that last a long time. Whether on your kitchen counter or in the fridge, butternut squash lasts much longer than many other fruits and vegetables.

They don’t have leaves or stalks that need a ton of water, and their hard skin protects them well from infections. As a result, plenty of people use butternut squash, pumpkins, and other squashes as decoration on kitchen counters and dining tables.

Typically, butternut squash can last for a couple of weeks at room temperature.

Exactly how long you can keep it out depends on how ripe it was when you bought it.

Its shelf life will also change if you freeze, cook, or stick it in the fridge.

Butternut squash still attached to its plant

What Does Butternut Squash Smell Like When It Goes Bad?

You can tell that butternut squash is bad by smelling it.

A good squash will have a mild, neutral smell. It will smell sort of earthy. On the other hand, bad butternut squash will smell rancid or sour.

If you smell sour butternut squash at the store, there’s a good chance the flesh will be rotten once you cut it open. Instead, pick another squash that doesn’t smell that pungent.

The Best Way to Store Butternut Squash

Are there ways to keep butternut squash from going bad?

The way you keep your squash will have a significant impact on how long it stays fresh. Squash will last a long time on the countertop, but once it’s cut, you’ll need to store it properly for use in recipes or to use as leftovers.

Here’s a look at diverse ways you can store butternut squash.

In the Pantry

A harvest of butternut squash in a wooden box on dark storage room

Keep your squash in a cool, dry area until you cook it. Keeping it in a closed pantry, for example, will keep the squash out of direct sunlight, which can make it rot faster.

Also, keep the squash away from other types of vegetables to avoid contacting outside moisture, which can hasten the softening or ripening process.

In the Fridge

The best way to store uncut squash is at room temperature.

If you stick an entire butternut squash in the fridge, it won’t last much longer than it would if it were out on the counter. In addition, it will only take up precious space in your refrigerator.

Once you cut it, however, you should always keep your squash in the fridge or the freezer to stop it from going bad. Cut squash doesn’t have the hard skin to protect it anymore, so it’s more likely to turn squishy and moldy faster.

Whenever possible, store the raw or cooked cut squash in a sealed container that prevents air exposure. This can add days or weeks to its shelf life.

In the Freezer

Frozen pieces of squash on the plate on wooden table

Can you freeze butternut squash? Yes, freezing butternut squash is a great option for people who grow their own and harvest all the squash at the same time.

If you have a sizeable garden, it’s unlikely you’ll eat everything in time before it goes through the natural ripening process.

To store your squash for months, chop it up and stick it in sealed bags before freezing them. It’s always preferable to freeze raw squash versus cooked squash because raw squash will stand up to the temperature changes much better than something grilled or baked squashes.

Other Signs That Mean Your Butternut Squash Is Bad

Aside from soft spots and foul odors, are there any other signs to tell that your butternut squash is bad? Typically, you can tell if squash is rotten by how it looks once you cut it open.

Healthy butternut squash will have creamy yellow and orange flesh inside. There shouldn’t be any brown or mushy spots once you open it. The flesh should feel soft but firm to the touch. You shouldn’t be able to press it down too much without excessive force.

In addition, tasting your butternut squash is one of the best ways to tell if it’s still good. Your squash should have an earthy, mild flavor and nothing else!

If it tastes sour or too bitter, you either cooked it too early or it’s too ripe and should go in the waste bin.

Finally, butternut squash should be dry when you store it on the countertop or cut it open. If you pick up butternut squash and notice any liquid on the skin or under where it was, it has probably gone bad.

The same goes for cutting butternut squash open. It should be relatively dry inside, with no excess liquid dripping out. Any slimy or stinky fluids are a major red flag.

Slices of raw organic butternut squash on wooden background


These days, grocery stores sell butternut squash both whole and sliced, depending on your needs and preference. This underscores just how popular butternut squashes are in salads and other recipes.

Pre-packaged butternut squash will usually only last a few days after you buy it, but a whole butternut squash purchased early can last for weeks. Avoid any mushy, leaky, or smelly squash, and you should be good to go!

Feel the outside of the squash to make sure there aren’t any soft areas that could indicate it’s rotting inside.