When fall approaches, gardeners start wondering “When to Harvest Butternut squash” in a way that it could be stored without damage.
Growing butternut squash and harvesting it at right time is the prime thing a gardener must keep an eye on.
As most of the growers mistakenly harvest butternut squash improperly at the wrong time. As a result, most butternuts are not in a condition of prolonged storage and face problems.
Now take a deep breath as it’s time to harvest butternut squash wisely!
You just have to follow prescribed harvesting time and observe 4 simple signs of mature butternuts to harvest timely by working on tips so that you can cure and store butternuts properly.
Key Learning Points
What is Butternut Squash
Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) commonly known as ”Garma or Butternut Pumpkin” is a variety of winter squash that grows on the vine.
Oval-shaped squash with yellow outer hard skin contains yellowish-orange fleshy pulp.
Seeds are present in bell-bottom compartments that are of no use in cooking but can be dried for other purposes.
Rich source of minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins especially vitamin A, this squash is basically a fruit but is also cooked as a vegetable.
Adding full flavors to winter recipes, butternut squash is full of sweet nutty flavor that you can enjoy till spring.
Tough and firm-textured skin with hard rind makes it capable of long term storage.
Store in winter; enjoy till spring!
When to Harvest Butternut Squash – Know Best Harvesting time
Having fresh food especially vegetables in the home garden is one of the healthiest things you can ever have.
Among kitchen garden vegetables, butternut squash is the most easily grown vegetable that you can grow in bulk and store for later refreshment.
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If you have grown butternut squash in summer it is the best time, October to November, to harvest mature butternuts.
Like pumpkins or gourds, butternuts are grown in spring or summer.
Hot summer weather is the best time to flourish butternut vine and it takes 3-4 months to fully mature.
They will be fully matured till winter.
But, whether the specific squash you are going to harvest is mature enough to be harvested?
You must observe the following signs of matured squash.
Is Your Butternut Squash Ready to Harvest – 4 clear Signs of Mature Squash
If you have grown winter squash and now planning to harvest, wait!
Wait and see whether your butternut squash is ripe enough to be harvested?
If you harvest before it is fully mature, that will neither be firm nor appropriate for storage and if wait for so long without knowing ripens signs, it will split.
But no need to be worried about it!
You just have to follow and observe given clear signs of ripe butternuts and you will get all of your answers about ‘When to harvest butternut squash’ clearly.
Notice its Appearance
First of all, notice its color. Ripe squash is deep tan (peanut color) with no or minimum stripes near the stem.
When butternut squash grows on a vine, it contains green vertical lines that fade as it matures.
See your vine.
If squashes are still green with lines, wait for a week or two and harvest when you clearly see its matured form.
Coming to the next sign, you have to notice its length.
Generally, squash matures when reaching 8 – 10 inches but it is not a fact and depend upon variety and soil.
Long squashes grow in nutrient-rich soil. So, carefully observe length on a daily basis and when you see it stops growing, pick your sharp knife and cut from the stem.
A good way to decide whether butternut squash is ready to be harvested is to observe its stem. Brown cracky stem is an indication of its maturity.
As it matures, the plant slowly stops transferring nutrients to winter squash and the stem dries changing color from green to brown.
If you mark this sign OK, you can pick and have delicious squash soup!
Finally, you are near to pick your butter squash if it is firm enough to resist being punctured with your fingernail.
The toughness of rind will tell that they are ready to be picked.
Concludingly, harvesting squash tests all of your senses, you need a long, tan-coloured firm rind butternut squash with a brown stem to cut for best taste.
Things You Must Consider When Harvesting Butternut Squash – Best Harvesting Tips
If you have marked all the signs OK to pick the squash, it’s good.
Now you have to consider some of the very simple tips before harvesting butternut squash. By following these tips, your butternut squashes are never going to be wasted.
- Harvesting mature squash at right time will give you the best-storing butternuts.
- Use sharp shears to cut rather than pulling from the vine.
- Cut from at least 2 inches of the tan cracky stem of butternut. In this way, squash pulp will be protected from bacteria and fungi.
- If you are expecting frost in your zone, try to harvest a day or two before frost starts. Severe cold weather or frost can be worst for your squash.
- If butternuts are not ripe and frost hits, carefully cover your squash with a sheet or blanket.
- Use improperly harvested squash (without stem or with naked pulp) as soon as possible and not store for long. They are more susceptible to bacterial attacks.
How to Cut Butternut Squash Easily
Cutting butternut squash is simply as easy as eating a squash dish!
Yes, this is so simple to cut butternut squash by cutting with a sharp knife or pruners at a distance from rind without damaging it.
As mentioned in harvesting tips, cut 2-3 inches of stem attached with squash to avoid any damage.
If butternuts have accidental cuts or bruises, you can not store them for longer storage. You have to use them early to prevent any infectious attack.
Or you can also add those damaged squash to compost heap so that you can see new growth next year.
How to Store Butternut Squash
Storing butternut squash is important as they are produced in bulk and due to their bigger size can not be used all at once.
Therefore, you have to store them rightly for later use.
Here is a simple way of storing cut or uncut squash. Just follow carefully to store butternut squash.
1. Store Uncut or Undamaged Squash
Storing winter squash carefully is important and need to be done with care.
Don’t place them outdoor or in the refrigerator to be attacked by insects and rot, respectively.
As butternut squash with firm rind is picked for best storing so, do not place them in the refrigerator if you want to store for months (you can store for up to 5-6 months).
By placing in the refrigerator, they will absorb moisture and lose toughness as a result there will be more chances of rot.
Place your butternuts in a dry cool place where the temperature ranges from 50 – 60 Fahrenheit (10 – 150C) and humidity 60 – 70 %.
A dry room or basement is best to store squash.
Butternuts can also last for 10 -14 days at room temperature placed at the table or a shelf.
For prolonged storage, it is recommended to store in a single layer without piling it up so that they do not touch each other and damage.
Have a weekly check on stored butternuts and observe if anyone showing signs of rot.
2. Store Cut Squash
If you want to store squash in cuttings, you can place it in the refrigerator by cutting it into small to medium-sized pieces.
Just peel off tough skin with a peeler, you can also cut it from the center for ease. Remove inner side seeds with a spoon or scratch with a knife.
Cut it in the required size or for the purpose you want to store.
If you want to roast, later on, cut in cubes, or for noodles use a spiralizer to shred.
Curing Butternut Squash
Curing is the simple procedure done with some fruits and vegetables to maximize their taste and to enhance their shelf life.
Most of the time harvested butternut squash also need curing for best peak flavor and sweetness.
To cure butternut squash, you simply have to place them in a sunny corner of your yard and place them for almost a week.
It will not only enhance their taste but also thicken their skin for prolonged storage.
By placing in a warmer place for some time also removes water that helps to store for a longer time period.
In frost conditions, you can also give curing time in greenhouse.
Coming to end, hopefully, you have gotten all of your questions answered starting from ‘when to harvest butternut squash’ to curing butternuts by following harvesting time and tips to storing conditions.
Now you can easily harvest your squash and store it properly to enjoy delicious squash recipes when you want!