Spaghetti squash is a nutritious and healthy food with many minerals and vitamins. You can prepare spaghetti squash in a number of ways such as baking, boiling, or steaming.
What is important is knowing how to tell if the spaghetti squash is bad to avoid becoming ill from eating it.
Signs that Spaghetti Squash is Bad
Although spaghetti squash is actually a fruit people often use it as a vegetable. The squash has antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients present (1). You need to know how to tell if your squash is edible or if it is bad.
Eating spaghetti squash that has gone off is not a good idea because not only will it taste odd or bad but it can actually make you sick.
This is because the fruit is susceptible to fungal and bacterial growth. Fungi like Fusarium petroliphilum have been detected on squash and have been shown to cause rot (2).
To determine if your spaghetti squash is bad, you should carefully examine it noting if there are changes from what the fruit should be like. In particular you should pay special attention to the smell, color, texture, and taste of the spaghetti squash.
Below we will describe some of these attributes and compare what fresh spaghetti squash should be like compared with fruit that has spoiled and is no longer safe to eat.
Spaghetti squash that is still okay to eat should never smell strongly. A strong smell is most often a sign that the food has spoiled and is not safe to eat.
The way to check smell is to sniff the squash carefully, including near the stem to make sure that no strange odor is starting to develop. A pungent odor may be your first clue that the spaghetti squash is going bad or has, in fact, gone off.
If the stem of the squash is black or you see white fuzz or if there is evidence of shriveling or moisture present at the tip, then this is a sign that the spaghetti squash is going off and likely is no longer suitable to eat.
The color of the outer skin, also known as the rind, should be yellow. The presence of any dark or discolored areas or spots are an indication of potential decay on the inside.
The fleshy part on the inside should be yellow or orange. Dull or odd-colored flesh is a sign that the fruit may be spoiling.
The rind of the spaghetti squash should be smooth and not have cracks present. This could indicate a problem on the inside.
There should not be any openings into the fleshy center of the squash because, obviously, this means it is exposed to potential fungal and bacterial contamination.
Note that the rind should be hard and you should not be able to push it in or scratch it.
Softening of the rind indicates the fruit is rotting. The rind should also appear dull and yellow in color if it is ripe, while unripe fruit has a shinier appearance.
The inside flesh of the spaghetti squash should be firm to the touch. It should not be mushy or overly soft.
The flesh should also not easily tear from the rind. This is yet one more sign of a spoiled squash that is most probably not safe to eat and will taste off.
Squash is one of the fruits that can become infected by a type of bacteria causing brown oval spots to develop on the rind.
Over time this can progress and penetrate right into the flesh of the spaghetti squash, causing decay. Avoid buying or selecting spaghetti squash that has these spots, since this is bacterial leaf spot disease.
Cooked spaghetti squash has a mild sweetness to the flavor, but it is not overpowering.
Bitter tasting squash is not edible and you should not continue eating this as it is either going off or has toxins in that will make you sick.
The toxins are known as cucurbitacin E but it is rare to find squash with this problem if you buy from the store.
Toxic spaghetti squash will taste bitter instead of slightly sweet like normal squash.
Never risk eating spaghetti squash or any other food for that matter that has a strange or unusual taste different from what you are accustomed to.
A bad taste can mean the start of rot due to fungal or bacterial growth.
If Spaghetti Squash Has Sprouts Inside, Is It Bad?
The spaghetti squash may or may not be okay to eat once you see sprouts growing inside. Sprouts grow from the seeds inside the fruit.
In some cases, if the flesh is still firm and yellow and the smell is fine, the squash will be safe, but any other changes may indicate the squash is now bad.
In other words, if you find sprouts inside the fruit go ahead and check that the color, texture, and smell are still alright. As we have previously mentioned, changes can be a sign that the squash has spoiled
What Does the Inside of a Spaghetti Squash Look Like?
A spaghetti squash that is safe to eat will have a fairly thick pale-yellow rind that is firm to the touch.
The inside part will also be a yellow color and seeds are often present. The inner part is often oval or rectangular in shape when the fruit is cut lengthwise.
There should not be white, green, or black spots inside. These indicate that mold is developing, which could make you sick.
A squash that is still green inside may simply not be ripe.
It is better to eat ripe fruit so your should always wait until you have a ripe squash before cutting it open.
How Long Does Spaghetti Squash Last in the Fridge?
After cooking spaghetti sauce, it can be stored in the fridge for from 5 days to 1 week. Do make sure to store the food in a properly sealed and airtight container.
Do eat your cooked squash within the 7 days because after this time, at the very least, the texture and taste is likely to not be as good and the spaghetti squash may have started to spoil.
How Long Does Spaghetti Squash Last in the Freezer?
While one can freeze raw spaghetti squash it is usually best to freeze the fruit after it has been cooked. Freeze your cooked squash in containers that seal completely.
This is to prevent frost forming on the food, which will cause changes in the taste over time. The spaghetti squash can be safely kept in a freezer from 7 to 8 months. Beyond this time, the texture and taste may definitely deteriorate.
How to Tell if Spaghetti Squash is Ripe
A ripe spaghetti squash is of a bright yellow color and it should be firm to the touch. You can pick unripe spaghetti squash and wait for it to ripen but only if the squash feels hard.
Apparently, squash that is soft will not ripen once picked. For a ripe squash, you should not be able to push in the rind if it is in good condition. Never buy squash that has soft spots because a mushy consistency indicates rot.
How to Store Spaghetti Squash
There is nothing wrong with storing spaghetti squash for a few months before you cut it open and cook it. The rule is to store the squash in a cool place that is not moist and at a temperature no greater than 60oF.
You have to store any cut fruit in the fridge or freezer. Remember to always use an airtight container so no water or frost gets onto your squash while it is in storage.
This may cause the fruit to deteriorate quicker and radically change the texture and taste in time.
How to Choose Spaghetti Squash at the Store
When shopping for spaghetti squash take careful note of the color and texture of the fruit. Pick a spaghetti squash that is golden yellow and still has the stem on it. The rind should be relatively smooth and have no soft spots or discolored areas present.
You can buy a lighter colored squash that you can ripen at home, but make sure it feels firm and not soft, and again, should have no discoloration anywhere on the rind.
To Sum Up
Spaghetti squash is an excellent source of beneficial vitamins and minerals. It can be used in many recipes and prepared in several ways. Like other food, spaghetti squash can go off and spoil, becoming contaminated with fungus or bacteria which can make you sick if you eat it.
When choosing spaghetti squash at the shop or picking your own, be sure to note that the color, smell, texture, and taste are correct. Any odd changes to the fruit can indicate spoilage and you should rather discard the fruit to be safe so as to avoid food poisoning.