Determining the right time when to pick butternut squash is very important since you don’t want to pick them too early as the texture might be too firm while as the sugars will not have fully developed.
Worst still, harvesting them when it’s too late will make your butternut squash too mushy!
We all don’t want to have our dinner ruined by realizing that the squash lost flavor due to early or late harvesting.
So, how do you know when to pick butternut squash? I have compiled for you a list 8 ways to know when your butternut is ready for harvest.
- The Stem
- The Shell
- The Color
- The Weight
- It's Length
- The Toughness
- The Sound
- The Float
The stem of the squash is a reliable way to tell you when it’s the right time to harvest. After maturing, the end of the stem turns from green to brown and will look as if it’s drying out.
This is an indication that the stem is no longer transferring nutrients to the squash and it is ready for harvesting.
When past the time for picking, the stem easily comes off, and it is most likely that molds will form on older squashes. This is the reason why you don’t want to take too long before harvesting.
In their initial stage, the squash will have vertical lines on them. As they mature, the lines fade and the rind turns to a pale orange while others turn to beige; it all depends on the type of butternut squash.
The shell also becomes firm and does not dent. Using your fingernails, try to press the shell, and if there are any dents, then it’s not ready yet.
The color to which your butternut squash turns when ready depends on the variety. However, there is a notable change between an unripe and ripe squash.
In the initial stage, the squash usually has a green-yellow tone with visible vertical lines. However, as it matures, the lines fade, and the squash turns to a beige color.
A ready squash will have a soft, matte color while an unripe squash will have a waxy or shiny surface color that is spotted.
As the squash ripens, its weight increases considerably. If you want to notice the change in the weight, you can try the green squashes and then the beige ones.
The ripe squashes will be heavier in comparison to their size. This is because it is full of moisture and also due to the hard shell.
Mature butternut squash will have an approximate length of 8-12 inches. However, this length varies depending on the variety and the growth condition.
Squash grown in the best weather and soil conditions will be larger. When you notice that the squash is not growing anymore, then that’s the right time to harvest them.
Squash will most likely stop growing after four to five months since the time the seeds were planted. Hence, you can track the growth of your squash by marking the date you planted the seeds.
You can test the toughness of the squash’ rinds using your fingernails. If they resist being punctured, then that means that the squash is ready.
If your squash is easily damaged, give it more time to harden.
A squash has a hollow interior which means that when you tap it, you will feel the hollow sound (The sound should be deep. BUM, BUM, BUM). In the case of an unripe squash or a rotten one, there will be a shallow sound (bim, bim, bim).
Another way to differentiate between a ripe and unripe/rotten squash is by testing them using water.
This technique works similarly to that used to test an egg. In which case, if your butter squash sinks in water, then it is ready. However, if it floats, it is either unripe or rotten.
Tips On When To pick Butternut Squash
Now that you know when to pick butternut squash, it is essential to know how to store them to prevent them from decaying.
- When your butternut squash is ready to harvest, cut the stem using a sharp knife or a pruning shear
- You should cut the squash stems 1 inch from the fruit
- Store them in a cool, dry place
- They will need temperatures of about 20 degrees or 70F.
- Don’t store them too close to each other
- Frequently check them out to remove any that could have started decaying
Butternut squashes are a source of carbohydrates and fiber. They also have other vital nutrients such as iron, potassium, niacin, and beta-carotene which are converted by the body to generate Vitamin A.
We need vitamin A for healthy skin, vision, and bones. But you might lose all these nutrients by harvesting your squash very early or too late.
And this concludes my guide; I believe that by no you know when to harvest butternut squash as well as how to store them.
Was the guide helpful? Let me know by leaving your thoughts, opinions, advice or questions in the comment section below.