Butternut squash is a part of cucumber family with hard outer layer and smooth sweet pulp inside. When it’s green and unripe, it does not taste delicious. This is why many people like it fully ripened.
To get the best flavor and taste, you have to make sure it ripens on the vine. If you harvest it early, then it may not taste good, and you have to cure it before you can eat.
Generally, it takes over 82 days for butternut squash to ripe and become harvest ready. If you are planting Burpee’s Butternut squash, then it becomes prepared to harvest in 75 days after planting.
When to harvest butternut squash?
Butternut squash is a sweet and creamy vegetable which is perfect for the various recipe. Once you have planted and grown butternut squash, it’s time to reap the reward of your hard labor.
But how do you know when to pick butternut squash?
First, check the time when you planted the butternut squash. Usually, it’s ready to harvest in the September or early October. Keep a close eye during these times as you should be prepared to start picking it up anytime.
Here is how to find out which butternut squash is ready to harvest.
Check the Weight of Squash
A harvest ready butternut squash is more massive than an unripe one. To find out if the butternut squash is ready to harvest, pick similar size squash, and compare the weight between each other.
The unripe butternut squash has full of moisture inside it which makes it heavier than the other. The harvest ready butternut squash has less moisture inside it which makes it lighter.
Find the Color of Squash
A ripened butternut squash has a deeper dark beige color. If the butternut squash has green spots or streaks, then it’s not fully matured. Let the butternut squash ripe on the vine, if it's still green or has dark green striping.
Recheck the squash in a couple of days, and if the color changes to deep tan color, then it means it’s ready to harvest.
Butternut Squash Stem Color
The stem of butternut squash is an excellent indicator to observe to know if it's ready to harvest. An unripe squash is green in color and is soft to touch. If you squish the stem a bit, you may have fluid sticking to your finger.
A harvest ready butternut squash stem becomes brown, hard and shriveled.
Tap on it
Butternut squash has a well cased harder layer which has a hollow interior. So, when you tap on it, you may hear the sound coming from a distance.
Whereas unripe squash will feel full and when you tap it, you will hear a very shallow sound.
A fully-grown butternut squash grows at the full-length size of 8 to 12 inches. These growth sizes may vary depending on the type of butternut squash you have planted.
When you find out the squash has fully grown and doesn’t appear to be growing anymore, then it’s a sign that you can pick it.
Sink or Float
You can place squash in a bowl full of water, and ripe butternut squash will float whereas unripe will sink. The reason it floats is that it’s hollower from inside.
Test the Toughness
Use your fingernail and press it harder at the butternut squash. If you find it difficult to scratch, then it’s ready to harvest.
But unripe squash will get scratched easily. If that happens, then you have to let it ripe for couple more days.
How to Harvest Butternut Squash
Once you have determined that the squash is ready to be harvested. Here is how you can correctly collect it.
How to store butternut squash
If you are not planning to consume harvested butternut squash right away, then cure it to store it longer. To cure butternut squash, place it in an 80 to 85-degree Fahrenheit temperature with mild moisture room for a week to two weeks.
The curing hardens the outer layer of squash and repairs any damage or cuts during the harvest process, which prevents it from getting rotten.
Once you cure the butternut squash, store it in a cool, well-ventilated location. The temperature should not exceed over 50-degree Fahrenheit. Don’t save it with other fruits as fruits release ethylene gas which affects the storage life of butternut squash.
With proper care and storing facility, you can store butternut squash for 3 to 4 months. When storing squash, place it on a wooden shelf or rack rather than on the ground. This prevents it from getting cold or get damaged by any rodents or insects.
Over to you
It’s essential to know when to harvest the butternut squash to get the sweet delicious food for your family and yourself. Be aware not to pick it when it's not fully ripe.
It not only reduces the squash flavor to become bland but also lowers the time you can store it.
Look for the above indicators such as color, texture, hardness, and weight of the butternut squash to decide if it’s ready to be harvested. Once harvested, cure it properly so you can store it longer.
Have you harvested butternut squash? We would love to know other tips or tricks you use to determine if it’s harvest ready. For any comment or questions, share in the comment below.