Mary's Veggie Garden

February 10, 2014

Butternuts in Storage

Filed under: Squash,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 10:02 am

I grew a lot of squashes in 2013, too many in fact. In the fall I harvested 10 squashes (30 pounds) from four Early Butternut plants, 21 squashes (56 pounds) from 6 Metro Butternut vines, and 13 squashes (29 pounds) from four Waltham Butternut vines plus 19 fruits, 70 pounds of Tetsukabuto. All were stored in on shelves in my unheated basement.

The squashes have been stored around 4.5 months. How are they doing? How do the varieties compare?

The first thing I noticed, when comparing this picture to the one taken last fall, is all the Tetsukabuto squashes have developed decorative orange stripes as they continue to ripen. The cooked flesh is thick and very sweet, and possibly a bit drier than last fall. (Too bad my usual seed source does not have Tetsukabuto this year.)

The remaining stored squash: top shelf Early Butternut, middle 2 shelves Metro, bottom shelf Waltham. All shelves - Tetsukabuto.

The remaining stored squash: top shelf Early Butternut, middle 2 shelves Metro, bottom shelf Waltham. All shelves – Tetsukabuto.

My cooking strategy was to cook damaged squashes first. Along with the damaged fruit I cooked the smallest squashes, reasoning that with their greater surface area compared to their volume, the smallest would dry out first. This meant we ate a lot of Waltham because they were planted a couple of weeks later than the rest and their vines died early with small, immature squashes, due to severe powdery mildew.

Early on, about 3 weeks after harvest, the biggest Tetsukabuto rotted. It had formed very late in the season and grew quickly, probably because it was the only squash on the vine. It hung from the garden gate so it got a lot of jostling and was probably bruised and still immature when frost forced harvest. (Deducted from my squash total.)

Everything else stored very well until late January when I noticed a discolored Metro butternut. That one was a total loss. Since then 2 more Metro started rotting from the blossom end. For the Metro in the picture, I discarded all of the seed end and about 1″ of the neck. The rest of the neck was fine and tasty. A small Tetsukabuto also rotted in the same fashion.

2/2014 Top Metro, bottom Early butternut.

2/2014 failing squashes: top Metro, bottom Early butternut.

Many of the butternuts are starting to shrivel which means they are drying out. The shriveling is worst with Metro, though a few Early Butternuts, like the squash in the picture, are also starting to dry. So far the four remaining Waltham look fine.

Did you notice the dark spot on the shelf in the first picture? Here’s a close-up.

A sure sign of a failing squash.

A sure sign of a failing squash.

One of the squashes developed a ‘leak’. My wooden shelves are lined with plastic which is topped with recycled packing paper. The paper absorbs and disperses the moisture from normal transpiration. It also readily shows any problems.  A drip like this means I should inspect all the surrounding squashes for problems. This drip was caused by the small, rotten Tetsukabuto. There were also drips under a couple of Walthams which had tiny nicks in the skin.

Among the butternuts, Early Butternut is storing the best. It’s difficult to judge the storage differences between Waltham and Metro, because the Walthams were so damaged most were eaten first and not stored very long. Although Early butternut is storing better than Metro, Metro is the sweeter squash. Metro is resistant to powdery mildew so it had a leaves longer than the other squashes, which accounts for its sweetness and productivity.

This winter’s experience with Tetsukabuto is typical. I lose one or two and the rest develop very hard skins and keep extremely well.

What am I doing with all these squashes? I make a double batch of Squash and Tomato soup which we enjoy for lunch nearly every day.



  1. Love your updates… Was missing them!

    My butternuts are Ponca and a full sized one that may be Metro but I cannot recall. I tossed all my delicatas due to nonsweet flavor. Basement is likely close to 70 and still they hang on. No root cellar alas. Will make butternut squash soup soon.

    I am going to try Carol Deppe’s candy stick dessert delicatas this year… Should be sweeter.

    Seed starting soon.. I have not done any yet. Found way too many interesting tomatoes to try. Have no community plots in my town and space limited. Boo hoo.

    Chris Reid Fairfield County, CT Master gardener

    Sent from my iPhone

    Comment by Chris Reid — February 10, 2014 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

    • Hi,
      I didn’t know I have a follow among the CT MGs. I’m guessing your basement is heated – mine is down to 48, and colder in a few spots. I’m trying a new squash too, Autumn Crown, because I couldn’t get Tetsukabuto. I’ve firmly resolved to not get an extra plot in community gardens this year. I got to try some new tomatoes and melons last year, but it is more work, more preserving, more giving away. Will start seeds in early March, beginning with onions and celeriac.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — February 10, 2014 @ 4:33 pm | Reply

  2. Could you save seeds from your mature Tetsukabuto for planting?

    Comment by Norma Chang — February 10, 2014 @ 4:31 pm | Reply

    • No, Tetsukabuto is a hybrid so there is a good chance of progeny looking like a grandparent, whatever those are. And it is also likely to have cross-pollinated with the butternuts growing along side. The progeny might be interesting, but I don’t have the space to experiment.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — February 10, 2014 @ 5:54 pm | Reply

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