How To Store Spaghetti Squash (Cut, Whole, and Cooked)
I am an absolute fiend for pasta, so much so that I would willingly have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if that were socially acceptable and not so calorie-dense. Fortunately, there is a way to still enjoy the experience of eating pasta, while cutting down on the calories – spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is a healthy and delicious alternative to traditional spaghetti pasta that is absolutely worth trying.
I first heard about spaghetti squash several years ago and initially I was skeptical about the hype. However, after cooking it for the first time, raking the inside to separate the “spaghetti strands,” and tasting it, I was sold. This low-calorie, low-carb vegetable is so easy to make and, when cooked and seasoned properly, has an almost identical texture to spaghetti noodles.
If you’re curious about the wondrous world of spaghetti squash, we’ve got you covered – especially if you’re wondering how to store spaghetti squash. Generally speaking, raw spaghetti squash can be stored in the pantry, uncooked, cut spaghetti squash should be stored in the refrigerator, and cooked spaghetti squash is best stored in the freezer.
With that said, continue reading for our complete guide on all there is to know about spaghetti squash including how to pick, store, cook, and enjoy this versatile vegetable.
What is Spaghetti Squash?
If you’re a pasta lover, like me, you unquestionably need to give spaghetti squash a try. A yellow-orange vegetable, spaghetti squash is harvested in the early fall. It is widely available and you’ll likely find a great selection at your local grocery store. When a spaghetti squash is cooked, the inside of the squash can be raked and separated to create long, thin strands. These shreds appear similar to angel hair pasta noodles.
To access the “noodles” in a spaghetti squash, the vegetable must be cooked until fork tender. While spaghetti squash may not necessarily taste exactly like pasta, the long strands can be topped with marinara sauce and twirled around your fork. Its texture is comparable to angel hair pasta – fibrous and tender, but slightly fragile.
The flavor is mild and doesn’t have that earthy, sweet flavor often associated with squash. As a result, spaghetti squash pairs perfectly with a curry or hearty sauce, as the flavor of the squash won’t compete with the rest of the dish but you still get the desired spaghetti-like texture.
Not to mention, to put things into perspective, a cup of traditional spaghetti pasta has roughly 200 calories, while a cup of spaghetti squash has approximately 40 calories. This makes spaghetti squash a guilt-free alternative to spaghetti noodles.
Spaghetti Squash Nutrition Facts
Spaghetti squash is considered to be a nutrient-dense food, which means that it is low in calories but full of a variety of key vitamins and minerals. More specifically, spaghetti squash is an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, vitamin B6, and manganese. It’s also high in beta-carotene, a pigment found in plants that has been proven to protect your cells and DNA from damage.
One cup, or 155 grams, of cooked spaghetti squash offers the following nutrients:
- Calories: 42
- Carbs: 10 grams
- Fiber:2 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 5 grams
- Vitamin C: 9% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Manganese: 8% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin B6: 8% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Pantothenic acid: 6% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Niacin: 6% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Potassium: 5% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
Additionally, spaghetti squash has small amounts of magnesium, iron, thiamine, calcium, and folate.
How to Pick Spaghetti Squash
An important step in enjoying spaghetti squash is knowing how to pick it. When you’re at the grocery store shopping for the ideal spaghetti squash, choose the one that is heavy for its size, hard, and has blemish-free skin. Additionally, you’ll want the exterior to be thick, darker in color, and free of mold, bruises, or spots.
Whether you’re picking up a spaghetti squash at the grocery store or growing them in your garden, the key is to have healthy-looking skin. Otherwise, the squash will be prone to rotting quicker and will be rendered inedible. Also, it’s important to note that the yellower the spaghetti squash, the riper it is.
While it is technically considered a winter squash, it’s likely that you’ll find this squash year-round – especially due to the growing popularity in recent years. Also, although the vegetable is universally referred to as spaghetti squash, you might also hear it being called “noodle squash, “vegetable marrow,” or “vegetable spaghetti.”
How to Store Spaghetti Squash
How you should store your spaghetti squash will depend on its condition – whether it’s whole, cut, or cooked. With that said, let’s take a look at the three different ways that you can store spaghetti squash based on these situations.
1. Storing Whole Spaghetti Squash
The best way to store whole, raw spaghetti squash is slightly below room temperature in a cool, dark place such as your pantry, basement, closet, or cabinet. For best results, the storage area should roughly stay between 55- and 60-degrees Fahrenheit at all times. By keeping spaghetti squash in these conditions, it should last for up to three months.
Understandably so, you may not be able to keep spaghetti squash in a dark location where temperature and humidity are regulated. If this is the case, the squash could still last for about a month so long as it is uncovered and stored at room temperature (68 degrees Fahrenheit).
If possible, try to avoid storing squash in extremely humid locations. Check your spaghetti squash regularly and when you start to notice that the skin has softened, this might be an indication that it’s time to toss it. Once you see the squash leaking liquids it is no longer edible is should absolutely be disposed of.
2. Storing Cut Spaghetti Squash
Once your spaghetti squash has been cut, it must be stored in the refrigerator. Wrap each piece tightly with plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container prior to placing them in the fridge. This will ensure that no air affects the squash while it’s being stored.
Instead of simply placing the spaghetti squash on a random shelf in the fridge, the ideal place is in the humidity-controlled drawer. It will last significantly longer in this location. When compared to other vegetables, squash requires a much lower humidity level. Therefore, by storing it in an environment that is less humid, you’ll make a huge difference in its longevity.
The cut pieces of spaghetti squash can remain in your refrigerator for up to five days. Of course, since the squash has been cut open, it will not last as long as the whole, uncut variety. Though, they should stay fresh for at least five days, and sometimes longer. Make sure that you cook the squash before the five days are up.
While the squash is being stored in your fridge, if you notice some black, blue, green, or white fuzzy spots, this is likely mold. If this is the case, you should throw out the spaghetti squash, even if it has been in the refrigerator for less than five days. Or, if you smell a foul odor when you unwrap the plastic wrap, toss the squash. Mold and stinky smells are both strong indications that the squash is no longer safe for consumption.
3. Storing Cooked Spaghetti Squash
The best way to store leftover already cut and cooked spaghetti squash is in the freezer. Prior to storing, make sure that you tightly seal the squash in plastic freezer bags. However, if you are planning on eating the leftover squash sooner rather than later, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to two days before you plan on reheating and eating.
When you’re ready to eat the squash stored in the freezer, move it to the refrigerator to allow it to thaw. Leave it there for several hours to let it thaw partially. Avoid allowing the squash to thaw completely, otherwise you’ll be left with a mushy texture when it’s reheated. Instead, it should thaw long enough where it softens a bit but is still cold to the touch. When the squash reaches this point, place it into a steamer basket on your stove and let it steam for approximately five minutes – or until tender, but firm.
Cooked squash that is stored in the freezer should last you between six and eight months. Whether you thaw, reheat and eat the squash after it has been frozen for a week or several months, it will still be safe to ingest and maintain its desirable “noodle” texture. Though, spaghetti squash that has been stored in the freezer longer than eight months is no longer safe or enjoyable to eat.
How to Prep Spaghetti Squash
Before you cook spaghetti squash, it must be prepared properly. First, use a clean towel to scrub the skin of the spaghetti squash or thoroughly wash it underwater. Then, you’ll need to slice the squash in half. Since it has particularly thick walls, spaghetti squash can be difficult to cut through. You’re going to need a sharp chef’s nice and a quality cutting board that won’t slip out from under you.
Quick Tip: Rest your cutting board on a kitchen towel or a damp paper towel to keep it from shifting around while you cut.
The goal is to create as flat of a surface as possible so that you can safely and efficiently slice your way through the squash. Once that’s accomplished, follow the steps below to cut the spaghetti squash in half.
- Begin by laying the squash out horizontally on your cutting board. Use your non-dominant hand to firmly grasp it in place.
- You’re going to start by cutting off the tip and the bottom edges, so make sure that your hand is several inches away from the cutting zone. Then, use your dominant hand and your chef’s knife to slice off the top of the squash. Shift the squash roughly 180 degrees and cut off the bottom. It’s crucial that you make sure that your hand is kept far away from the knife at all times.
- Then, move the squash to the upright position so that the widest end is sitting on the cutting board. This will give you the most stable position for cutting. At this point, take your knife and start at the top of the squash and slice in a downward motion.
That’s all there is to it! So long as you have a sharp knife, non-slip cutting board, and keep your hand away from the knife, slicing spaghetti squash in half is a breeze. The final step in preparing spaghetti squash for cooking is to scoop out the seeds with a spoon and dispose of them accordingly.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
If you’ve researched spaghetti squash at all, you’ve likely noticed that there are a million and one ways that you can cook it, with even more recipes that involve the vegetable. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to explore the two main ways that you can easily and quickly cook spaghetti squash to access those famous inner “noodles.”
1. Cooking Spaghetti Squash in the Oven
Arguably, the best way to cook spaghetti squash is by roasting it in the oven. It’s very simple, requires minimal preparation, and only uses a sheet pan. First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Once, the squash has been sliced in half lengthwise and the seeds scooped out, drizzle both insides with a bit of olive oil. Then, sprinkle on some salt and pepper.
Avoid using too much oil or seasoning, as this can cause the squash to come out a little watery. Flip the squash over and place both sides cut side down on a non-stick baking sheet. Use a fork to poke a few holes in the skin, pop it in the oven, and roast for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. While some recommend cooking the squash longer, this will result in the spaghetti strands being mushier.
If you’d rather the squash noodles come out al dente, stick to roasting it between 30 and 40 minutes. Of course, the timing is going to depend on the size of your squash. You’ll know it’s done when it’s tender and you can easily poke through the flesh and hit the peel.
At this point, it’s time to scrape out the squash. Flip the squash so that the cut sides are up and use a fork to gently rake the flesh away from the peel to separate it into strands. The spaghetti strands wrap around the vegetable horizontally so make sure that you move your fork in the same direction as the strands. This will help you get the longest noodles. Serve immediately with a bit of olive oil, marinara, or in a more complex dish.
2. Cooking Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave
Another option for cooking spaghetti squash is in the microwave. This is the quickest method as it only takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes for the squash to cook. Simply put the two squash halves face down into a microwave safe dish and poke holes in the skin. Pour about one inch of water in the dish and microwave for five minutes.
Continue cooking in two-minute intervals until the squash is tender and you can poke a fork easily through the skin.
How to Tell If Spaghetti Squash is Bad
If you had a spaghetti squash in storage for quite some time and are unsure if it is still edible, here are some signs of spoiled spaghetti squash:
- Moist, black, or shriveled stem. A spaghetti squash’s stem or the area where the stem was previously attached should be rounded and dry. So, if it’s not, the squash is starting to rot.
- Shiny, cracked, or watery rind. Fresh spaghetti squash should have a rind that is pale yellow, light orange, or ivory in color, with a dull sheen. If the rind is cracked, shiny, watery, or dark yellow or brown, your spaghetti squash is going bad.
- Mushy or soft rind. When fresh, a spaghetti squash will have a hard rind that is hard to scratch with your fingernail. If the rind can be easily scratched, has soft spots, or generally feels mushy, the squash is bad.
- Pungent odor. When a spaghetti squash is fresh it should not have a strong odor. So, if you notice a strong, unpleasant smell near the stem end, your squash is decaying.
- Low weight. If your squash feels hollow, light, or is oozing water, it has likely lost too much quality to be good enough to eat.
How long does spaghetti squash last?
How long spaghetti squash lasts depending on whether it is whole, cut, or cooked. Raw, whole spaghetti squash will last for up to three months when kept in a cool, dark location. If stored at room temperature, however, it’ll only last about a month.Once cut, spaghetti squash will keep in the fridge for five to seven days and cooked spaghetti squash will last for four to five days. Though, freezing cut or cooked spaghetti squash will last longer.
Can you freeze spaghetti squash raw?
While it’s perfectly okay to freeze spaghetti squash completely raw, it’s best to blanch or cook it before you freeze it. Blanching or cooking kills the enzymes that age spaghetti squash.
Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.
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