Otherwise known as winter squash, butternut squash is a vegetable similar to other types of squashes in terms of appearance, texture and flavor. It tastes sweet and is loaded with nutrients. This is one natural source of additional vitamin B3 (niacin), fiber, beta carotene (converts into vitamin A), iron, potassium and complex carbohydrates.
In other words, butternut squash is something you should include in your vegetable garden due to its awesome taste and helpful benefits to the health. But since we’re not going to focus on that aspect, let’s discuss when to pick butternut squash and how should be done properly.
- The Ripening Period
- When To Pick Butternut Squash
- The Signs Butternut Squash is Ready to Harvest
- The Unripe Butternut Squash
- The Proper Way to Harvest Butternut Squash
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The Ripening Period
You have to understand that this kind of squash provides a much better taste when it is ripe. However, it’s vital to know the right time to harvest it. Most importantly, do not remove it off the vine if it’s not yet ripe. Allow it to ripen first before you start cutting and de-attaching it. Take note that removing it off the vine may need a little work. You have to use a state-of-the-art shears because this vegetable is quite hard. It only softens once cooked. Also, keep a few inches of the stem attached to the vine.
When To Pick Butternut Squash
Growing butternut squash is easy and simple. Despite its other name, this vegetable is best grown during summer or when the weather is warmer. It needs full sun in order to fully grow. Based on that planting period, we can conclude when to pick butternut squash. That should be before the first frost during winter.
Other than constant direct sun exposure, this vegetable grows on warm soil, most notably an inverted hilly area to provide some room for the vines to spread out. Of course, it needs regular watering. It’s very exciting to see your own plant sprouting. But between 60 and 110 days, the rewarding moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived. That’s when to pick butternut squash and enjoy some good dishes.
The Signs Butternut Squash is Ready to Harvest
For beginners, there are indications that can tell you when to pick butternut squash. These are the appearance and texture.
Butternut squash grows fruit in green color. It turns tan, pale orange or light brown without green lines or stripes once it is ripe. So starting 60 days after you’ve planted the seeds or when the fruits began growing, carefully monitor their color.
You can simply touch the outer rind of the fruit too. It can tell you it’s fully developed and ready to pick for consumption once it is soft. With your fingernail, it is very easy to test that.
Another sign when to pick butternut squash is through its stem. Take a good look at the end if it has become brown in color. This normally indicates that it’s beginning to dry out so you need to pick it as immediately as possible.
Remember that when you pick this squash very early, the sugars have not yet developed, which means the taste wouldn’t be that good. Surely you don’t want it mushy.
Lastly, the size can tell you when to pick butternut squash. A ripe one has to be at least 8 inches to 1 foot long.
The Unripe Butternut Squash
For some circumstances, there may be a need to harvest butternut squash that is not yet fully ripe. Such instance is when you plant a little late which can mean a late harvest. That would be already the first frost of the season and it’s helpful to pick it up before the weather freezes the fruits.
Once harvested, store the vegetable in a cool, dry place with 85% humidity and around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This can be for stored from 10 days up to 6 months. Some great places are the basement, wine cellar or just an enclosed container. Keep in mind that unripe squash needs to mature properly after being picked.
The Proper Way to Harvest Butternut Squash
Now that you know when to pick butternut squash, it’s also vital to find out the best or proper method to pick it. Here are some quick tips.
1. Use Proper Tools
Since this kind of squash is harder than most vegetables, a sharp knife or shears is needed to remove it off the vine. You may also need some container to carry the squashes as a single fruit can weigh about 2 pounds.
2. Cut With Two Inches Stem
When cutting, make sure to leave an inch or two of the stem that is still attached to the squash.
3. Store Properly
It is also important to store the fruits at a nice location. If already ripe, it should only take a few days before it starts spoiling. On the other hand, unripe squash can be stored for a week or even months but must be stored at a dry, cool place.