No matter if you are in the middle of the fresh produce section of your local supermarket or grow your own at home, how to know when butternut squash is ripe can be vital.
Unlike lots of other fruits and veggies, it can be more challenging to pick up ripe butternut squash with squash.
Luckily, once you know what to look for, you can make sure your ripe butternut squash is ready when you want it. (Find the Best Water Hose)
By the end of our guide, you can learn when to harvest your butternut squash and many other tips about what to look for when growing butternut squash through the summer, ready to pick off the vine come harvest.
Can You Eat Butternut Squash Before it is Ripe?
It is possible to eat butternut squash before it is ripe, and you can continue to ripen them indoors.
Wash your butternut squash and then place them in a sunny area.
Keep an eye on them and turn them occasionally until they begin to move from a green color to the light tan color that shows a ripe squash is ready for eating.
Do Butternut Squash Ripen Off the Vine?
When you want to know how to tell if butternut squash is ripe, you will find it possible to ripen your winter squash off the vine as long as it is beginning to mature. At this stage, it will be changing color.
The butternut squash develops a hard outer skin, and once it matures, it can be stored for up to six months in a cool, dry location.
However, let them ripen on the vine, and they taste better and last longer.
Winter squashes ripen well after summer, with the best season for butternut squash in late fall and winter.
Unlike summer squash types, winter squashes develop their thick skins you have to remove before eating. Uncooked flesh is hard and challenging to cut. Once cooked, it is soft, creamy, and sweeter than summer squash. (Read Best Mulch for Vegetable Garden)
Butternut squash will store better when you let it mature on the vine. Mature butternut squash is bottle-shaped and can measure up to 12 inches long with 5 inches when mature.
To tell when is butternut squash ripe, feel one first and then try to dent the squash skin. If it’s hard, the butternut is prime to harvest.
The skin of mature squashes is dull and dark brown, rather than shiny. When harvest approaches, the stem and vines have dried out and turned hard.
When cutting ripe squash off the vine, leave 1 to 2 inches of stem on your butternut, which helps increase storage life.
Unripe Winter Squash
Should there be a first hard frost predicted earlier than usual, it is better to harvest unripe butternuts instead of letting them freeze on the vine.
On the morning before any frost, clip the squashes from the vine and make sure to leave several inches of stem.
You can cure unripe butternut squash by storing them in temperatures of 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity levels of 80 to 85 percent for ten days.
Such a curing procedure is used as it helps prolong the storage life of squash. It helps to harden the vegetables’ skin, heal any wounds, and ripen immature fruit.
Ripe butternut squash is not typically cured, although curing may help the unripe fruit mature. One thing is that this curing doesn’t typically improve squash flavor and not worth the effort to store this way unless the squash is close to being ripe.
Should you ripen butternuts after harvest, use them as fast as possible; they won’t store as well as ones ripened on the vine.
Can You Overcook Butternut Squash?
Once you have picked your grown squash from your garden, you will want to eat it in the way you like best.
Many people have their favorite recipes; however, lots you can use to cook this type of plant. (Learn How to Make a Veg Garden)
One of the significant concerns unless you are having soup is if you can overcook the squash. If you are cooking squash cubes in the oven, you need to stick to the 25-to-30-minute cooking time they advise. Any longer than this and the way the fruit will look and feel is soft and mushy.
To make sure you can keep your squash for the longest possible time, you need a few tips on storing them in the best possible ways. You
- It would help if you were sure there is no damage to the skin as this can let mold or insects get inside.
- Dead vines can be an indication of ripeness. You can do this with a twist, yet the fingernail test into the rind is a better way to tell. The skin will also be brown but may even still have a couple of spots of green.
- Leaving a few inches of the step prevents any rot on the squash during storage.
- Once harvested from your garden and washed (dry thoroughly), lay them in a single layer to prevent rind damage.
- Hardening off the squash is vital to protect against moisture, insects, mold, and bacteria, which will break down the fruit quicker.
- Turn fruits on occasion, so all sides have exposure to the air.
- If you have a storage place where you can adjust the temperature, you can increase storage times. Each reduction of 18-degrees increases storage life.
Using all the above, you will find that you can safely store your butternut squash for 2 to three months after harvesting in the fall, using a cool dark area.