When To Pick Butternut Squash From Your Garden And How To Store It Naturally

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From the day when your butternut squash’s buds burst, when early shoot and leaves open, when the buds start flowering and bearing fruits, when they fully ripen and ready for harvest till winter dormancy is coming round the corner and repeat the squash life cycle once more, you know it’s a challenging route awaiting all year round.

Each stage would require various strategic time and care technique preparations. Are you confident in having mastered all the planting procedures, from when to sow the seeds to when to pick butternut squash? Between those phases, how do you know when a butternut squash is ripe and ready for harvest? And even beyond, have you learned how to store a rich crop for long-term domestic food reservation?

If these are the things that have been messing your head all the time, then welcome to the crew, folks, as this is the place to present a trail of know hows on all the issues above, especially about when to pick butternut squash from your garden & how to store it. Let’s dig in!

When To Pick Butternut Squash? – The Best Time Of The Year!

How Long Does It Take For Butternut Squash To Ripen Fully?

Butternut squash, sometimes labeled as winter squash, ironically creeps through a prominently abundant crop in case being sown from spring, contrary to its name. Butternut squash involves between 110-120 days to mellow, so make sure to let the crop rest until the rind is firm and turned beige, pale orange, or rich golden tan at the mercy of different varieties.

best time to harvest butternut squash
Late September or October Is The Best Harvest Time For Butternut Squash

The Long Anticipated Moment To Get Your Butternut Squash Harvest In!

If you’ve raised beds of butternut squash for years, you must’ve realized growing butternut squash is a winter gardening business by gut feelings. Opting for planting your seeds in the spring and reaping the fruits in the winter will help your squashes grow to their best forms.

Laying by most of your crop on the vine and waiting till late autumn and winter before late September or October approaches are crucial tips for the squash to fully achieve the thick skins desired for winter hoard, assuming you’ve got your butternut squash reaped before the first frost.

Be sharp on guarding the weather forecast, as a bitter frost will irritate your squash and produce greater risks of rotting. And another thing to catch, please sow the seeds from the spring so as not to miss the most clement time to harvest your crop when growing butternut squash.

Fully Ripe Butternut Squash With Matte Beige Rind
Fully Ripe Butternut Squash With Matte Beige Rind

How Do You Know When Butternut Squash Are Ready?

So far, here are a few tips you will learn to identify the maturing point of your butternut squash:

By Length

Almost all butternut squash matures around 8-12 inches in length, while summer squash like patty pan variety show signs of mature points at 6 inches already. But then again, depending on distinctive farming practices and varieties, like whether you’re employing organic gardening tactics or not in particular, the sizes that butternut squash grows to will vary accordingly.

Considerably, fertile soil will nurture bigger matured squash. Day in day out, remember to monitor the squash closely and track its lengths. Once the squash ceases growing, it is almost due to be collected.

By Rind Color

It isn’t really easy picking if it’s still greenish hued with dark green streaks. Once the squash is mature, the lines would fade away along the rind. Stay tuned for a few more weeks and you’ll witness the color transition.

Your butternut squash will be ready to harvest when it has a matte beige, deep golden tan, or pale orange tint near the stem with a negligible amount of green stripes. This is totally distinguishable with the waxy and slick shell of the unripe squash.

Young And Green Butternut Squash
Young And Green Butternut Squash

By The Appearance Of The Stem

It’s still not ripe, at least not until green mushy stems haven’t rotted away at all. When the stem has turned wrinkled, blackened, and hard, the squash is ready to be picked.

Butternut Squash Is Unripe If Your Fingernail Can Pierce Through The Rind
Butternut Squash Is Unripe If Your Fingernail Can Pierce Through The Rind

By Feeling The Rind

In a more direct sense, use your fingernail to feel the butternut squash rind and see if you can pierce through the skin. Perhaps if you can still, then the crop is somehow not perfectly ripe. On the outer side of mature butternut squash, the skin will be rugged and tricky to perforate through.

By Sound

Butternut squash is made of 80% pulp internally, meaning you’ll hear a deep echo when you tap it (the sound should be a series of sharp BUM, BUM, BUM). In the event of young or spoiled squash, there should be a vague sound (bim, bim, bim).

Read more:  How Long Does Watermelon Last After You Pick It?

By Water Testing Via Archimedes’ Buoyant Force

Let the leveraging effect of water determine whether your butternut squash has ripen or not. Working identically to an egg testing mechanism, if the squash sinks deep down the bottom after being dropped into the water, then it’s ready to pick.

On the other hand, if it floats upwards, then either your squash is still green or has been decaying.

Using Tools To Cut Butternut Squash From The Vine Instead Of Manual Twisting
Using Tools To Cut Butternut Squash From The Vine Instead Of Manual Twisting

How To Harvest Butternut Squash Without Rotting It Away

Butternut squash can often be cumbersome to pick. Upon harvesting, one of the key things to prioritize is to have a few inches of the stem attached to the body for a longer life span guarantee.

It may be tempting to twist and pull your butternut squash once it’s ripened on the vine. Sadly, not everything is so simple as ABC like that. Once your vegetable’s been twisted and turned without the stem, it bears the risk of being perishable.

To yield improved outcomes and fences against early decay, it is imperative that you leave about 2 inches of the stem hooked up with the harvested squash. Adopt lawn care arsenals such as a pair of pruning shears, gardening scissors or a sharp knife to deliberately snip the fruit out of the vine. Dab dirt off the rind with a damp cloth.

Short or no stems allow bacteria to trespass the short-lived soft spot where the stem once inhabited. Fruit that has been bruised, cut, or extracted from the stem should be eaten at once. After you have completely scrapped the stem, eat your vegetable ASAP, as it will not store well.

Another thing that won’t compromise well with any storage condition is the unripe squash. It won’t be as sweet as ripe one, but it’s still flavorsome.

Once you notice the crop has already withered before plucking, it’s more eco-friendly to salvage it for compost instead of casting it into a heap, where you might see sapling shooting next spring.

At the odd chances that your squash is swamped with bacteria or powdery mildew already, blend a 10:1 bleach to water solution and wipe it on the surface before air drying it. Then put it in stock in a dry cool room.

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How to Store Butternut Squash Without Abusing Preservatives

How Long Does Butternut Squash Stay Fresh Off The Vine?

After freshly cut off the vine, intact and raw butternut squash can stay fresh around one to three months when being kept in shade under the ice, a basement or cellar. They would still do well at the pantry for up to 14 days, at room temperature. If properly processed and stored at 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, your harvest will last throughout six to eight months.

Conventional Methods Of Storage

Curing Method

Since you’ve already done butternut squash harvesting, your raw and unexposed crop will need curing in a cool dry place. To thoroughly toughen the rind, you must let the squash sit at room temperature for a week or two at around 50° to 70° Fahrenheit for optimal temperatures.

Do not buy the advice on a considerable number of catalogs suggesting curing for over a week to target a tougher rind and longer dried squash lifespan. You’d better not take it out of the window where they would be highly susceptible to insects. As you don’t want sunlight to accelerate the ripening phase, stash your crop in a root cellar, crawl space, or kitchen area.

Freezing method

There are not many advocates for freezing raw squash as the textures could be impaired and the flavor could be manipulated. Chop your raw squash into mini-sized cubes if you ever want to pick up the freezing preservation method, though.

Pack a butter paper on a flat tray, lay the cubes thereon, and let them chill. Double-check to see if the cubes stick to each other in case you’ve racked them up. Try to avoid this at all costs.

Seal your thoroughly frozen squad in an airtight jar or zippered plastic bag, and re-frost.

Once completely frozen, transfer your frozen squash cubes in an air-tight container or a zippered plastic bag and refreeze. Pin the date of storage on your jars or airbags.

Side-dish Processing Method

Another alternative for preserving butternut squash is to roast and make a puree out of it before chilling. Afterward, load the puree in small airtight jars or zip-lock plastic containers, much like with the raw squash. Particularly, you can thaw the mixture to make baby food, or serve it on the side for your squash spaghetti, squash soup, squash gravy, squash pie or any other squash recipes.

Butternut squash seeds are also a great source of nutrients, analogous to the widely edible pumpkin seeds. That’s why you can roast and serve them in the same fashion as the latter.

Bottom Line

Hopefully, the piece above has covered all of your lingering issues from when to harvest butternut squash, how to tell if it has ripened or not, and how to store it in a natural way for all year use.

Please keep in mind, butternut squash reaches maturity when the rind turns beige to golden tan with a minimal amount of opaque green vertical lines. Other signs to define ripe squash include its length, sound, floating power, and such.

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