I've just bought a butternut squash. On the label it says "Keep at room temperature". Why shouldn't I store it in the fridge?

1 Answer 1


Two factors affect the storage of butternut and other winter squash, temperature and humidity. From Bonnie Plants :

You’ll see best storage results when you stash squash in a cool, dry spot. For most winter squash, store at 50º to 55º F with relative humidity of 60 to 70 percent.

Obviously, the temperature in our refrigerators is much lower than 50°F - 55°F. And humidity levels can be all over the place, higher or lower than recommended.

To further answer why temperature makes so much difference: winter squash and pumpkins are still alive even after being harvested and continue to 'breathe'. From NC State :

Respiration rate of fruit is most effectively controlled by lowering the temperature. For each 10°C (18°F) reduction in fruit temperature, the respiration rate is reduced by approximately one-half. Chilling injury can occur, however, to some fruits at temperatures below 50°F.


Whether in a home, garden or commercial planting, special care should be exercised to protect harvested fruit from excessively high (>95°F) and cold (<50°F) temperatures, asphyxiation, and mechanical injuries such as scratches, cuts or bruises. Not only are mechanical injuries unsightly, they also provide an easy entrance for various rot-producing organisms.

  • 3
    This is kind of obvious, but these directions apply to the whole squash - once you start peeling, cutting, etc. then it should be stored in the fridge to avoid rot. I find that cubed squash will usually keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
    – logophobe
    Nov 2, 2016 at 20:33
  • @logophobe +1 That's a good point that someone may overlook.
    – Cindy
    Nov 2, 2016 at 20:40
  • Also, depending on the refrigerator, there is always a risk of par-freezing, which won't do the squash well either :) Nov 3, 2016 at 10:31
  • 1
    @logophobe is right, and you can get longer storage by cutting it to size before peeling only the part you're going to use, and tightly covering the cut face of the saved piece with cling film, which doesn't need to cover all the unbroken skin
    – Chris H
    Nov 3, 2016 at 12:55

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