Curing Squash

A couple of people on the plot asked what we were doing to cure our pumpkins, as a result of my last post. The thing is, we don’t have anywhere that we can easily and securely cure pumpkins so we have to take them off site.

‘Curing’ a pumpkin begins with harvesting – pumpkins and gourds should not be picked while they are still soft. Green or immature fruits only keep for a few weeks before they begin to shrivel. They should be bright in whatever if their normal colour – orange for pumpkins, anything from pure white to deep yellow for various other forms of squash and gourd and – most crucially – have a fairly hard rind.

So harvesting should be done after the vines have withered and the stems have actually turned brown and begun to dry – of course if your weather turns inclement (for which read rainy) you may have to harvest early and know that your pumpkins won’t lass as long.

Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut the fruit from the vine. Wash the fruits in warm, soapy water to remove any traces of soil. After wiping off any excess moisture, spread the fruit out on layers of newspaper in a place that offers good air circulation and a temperature of at least 21 degrees C – much warmer than most people think is necessary! Leave them for a week or two to toughen their skin and heal surface cuts, making them impervious to outside infection, rot or damage, then you can store them in whatever place you have that is dry , has good circulation of air, and doesn’t drop below 7 degrees C. Alternatively – make lots of pumpkin soup in the days after you harvest and freeze it for the months ahead!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, October 13, 2008

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