Written by Ivy
Jan 13 2023
The typical color of an acorn squash is green, with a faint yellow spot on the side that faces the ground. That spot on an ripe acorn squash has changed from yellow to a deep orange color and is prepared for picking. If the entire squash is orange, it has overripened because you waited too long.
The majority of acorn squash varieties are frequently ready for harvest 75 to 100 days after seed planting. Sunlight is a crucial element that you must provide for them in order for this to happen. At least six hours of direct sunlight per day must be provided for acorn squash.
So, when are acorn squashes ripe and how do you know when to pick acorn squash? When an acorn squash is mature and ready to be picked, there are a few signs to look for. Observing its color is among the simplest ways to do this. Acorn squash ripens to a dark green hue. Yellow will turn to orange where it has come into contact with the ground. Acorn squash's rind, or skin, will change color and also harden. A plant's stem can be used as a further indicator of ripeness. When the fruit is fully ripe, the stem that is still attached to it will become withered and brown.
When those dark green squashes reach their mature size, you might be tempted to pick them right away, but resist the urge. Even though your acorn squashes may have reached their full size of 4–7 inches (10–18 cm) long, they might not be ready for your table just yet. Here's how to determine if you have a patch of ripe acorn squash or not.
After first sprouting on the vine, an acorn squash needs 50–60 days to mature completely. When you first notice the immature acorn squash forming at the base of the squash blossom, make a note of the date on your calendar. In less than two months, that tiny squash will be ready for picking.
There are still observable indications of ripening squash even though the upper parts of acorn squash will remain dark green from the time they form until they ripen. Flip over your acorn squash. Your squash is probably ready to eat if the underside is a deep orange color. The squash needs more time on the vine if the underside is still green or yellow.
Indent the squash's skin with your thumbnail. The squash is ripe if the skin texture is resilient and a little challenging for you to pierce. Your acorn squash has not yet reached full maturity if the skin is very thin and easily pierced.
The plant a squash is growing from can be used as a sign of the health of the squash. As the squash ripens, the squash vines are adapted to die off. The acorn squash plant is nearing the end of its life cycle if you've been watering and caring for your squash but the plant is yellowing or wilting. The time has come to harvest your squash, as evidenced by this.
A mature acorn squash should be resilient and springy in contrast to an immature squash, which is frequently hard. Use your thumb to press the squash while holding it. Unripe is a hard squash. Overripe squash has soft spots. When you squeeze your squash, you should choose the variety that gives slightly and bounces back.
Harvesting of acorn squash typically takes 80 to 100 days. Acorn squash should be left on the vine a little bit longer if you plan to store it rather than consume it right away. This permits the rind to further harden. Acorn squash is susceptible to frost even though it can remain on the vine for several weeks after becoming ripe. Squash that has been damaged by frost doesn't keep well, so those with soft spots should also be thrown away. As a result, it's crucial to harvest acorn squash before the first significant frost in your region. This typically happens in September or October. When cutting acorn squash from the vine, take care to leave at least a few inches (15 cm) of space.) of the stem attached to help preserve moisture.
It's very typical for novice gardeners to harvest their acorn squash too early. This is because acorn squash matures rather quickly after beginning to grow. Being patient is crucial, though. Too-early-picked squash won't taste very good. Don't rush your squash harvest so that the acorn squash can fully develop its rich, buttery flavor. An early-picked squash will taste bitter or flavorless.
After being harvested, acorn squash stops ripening. When you cut the squash off the vine, it won't taste any better even though it can last without decomposing for a very long time after being picked. Wait for the signs that your squash is actually ready if you want the best flavor and texture of the fruit.
Use a sharp knife or clippers to harvest the acorn squash. Although you can attempt to break the ripe acorn squash free from the vine, cutting it is advised to prevent harming the stem. Acorn squash should never be pulled from the vines because doing so could harm unripe squash that hasn't yet been harvested. For summer squash varieties, twisting it free will work, but for acorn squash, it's crucial to harvest it without harming the stem to ensure that it can continue to produce and to keep a small portion of stem attached to the ripe squash.
You should cut your ripe acorn squash leaving at least an inch of stem attached. Make sure it's within that range; you can leave up to five inches if you want. Acorn squash needs a small amount of stem to help it retain moisture; removing it too soon may harm your fruit and even hasten fruit decay.
Our ripe acorn squash must first be sorted through them before curing. Acorn squashes with soft spots or signs of rind damage must be eaten right away because they won't keep as long as the others.
Acorn squash needs to be dried in a cool, dry place, just like other winter squash. Winter squash should not be stacked on top of each other, even though your acorn squash is ripe and has developed a tough skin. By doing so, you risk giving your squash fruit soft spots and a bad texture. If cured incorrectly, ripe acorn squash will not keep, and if they have been stacked, rot can spread. Instead, arrange them in rows or layers. Acorn squash should be cured somewhere with a 50–55 degree temperature range. The squash could be harmed by any extra or less. For two weeks, rotate the squash every day by a quarter to make sure the stem has fully dried out and the rind has developed a tough outer layer.
Rich yellow to golden yellow flesh is the color of an acorn squash that is fully mature. It's time to cook the acorn squash and break out the brown sugar if you cut into your squash and notice yellow inside.
The interior of an early-harvested acorn squash will be extremely pale yellow, greenish-yellow, or green. When cooked, a squash this color might not have a strong flavor.
Avoid stacking your acorn squash, just like when it's being cured. Acorn squash should only be stacked two squash deep once they have been cured, if that is not possible. Fruit from an acorn squash can be stored for 1-2 months in dry areas at 50–55 degrees.
Acorn squash is best preserved by freezing if you want to keep it for longer than a few months. Acorn squash needs to be cooked in advance for it to stay frozen for up to 12 months. Cut off the two ends of your acorn squash, then scoop out the seeds and the center's soft, fibrous flesh. Cut the fruit from the skin and cube it. The acorn squash can then be prepared however you prefer, including by steaming, baking, boiling, or using a pressure cooker.
There are a few ways to store acorn squash once the texture of the fruit has softened a little. Put the squash on a baking sheet and freeze it if you want to keep the cubes. The acorn squash fruit can be kept frozen for up to a year by placing it in an airtight container or bag that is freezer safe. Acorn squash keeps just as long when mashed or pureed before storage.
Acorn squash will stay fresh for about four days if it is cooked and refrigerated.
As you can see, the majority of acorn squash varieties are frequently ready for harvest 75 to 100 days after seed planting. When deciding when to harvest acorn squash, there are four things to think about. For your squash to be at its ripeness peak, each and every one of them must be accurate.
It's critical to take into account each one because if you don't learn when to harvest acorn squash, they won't keep as long in your long-term food storage as you would like.
Acorn squash should be harvested when its skin has become firm and dull. When the yellow spot on your acorn squash turns orange and the stem is brown and dry, the plant is mature. Acorn squash with a glossy skin indicates that it is still a young squash, and one that is mostly orange indicates that it has spent too much time on the vine. Use the fingernail test to check the firmness of the skin to determine whether or not acorn squash should be harvested.
A: Yes, it will continue to ripen off the vine even after you harvest it. It should be mostly ripe when you do this. To seal in moisture and safeguard your acorn squash, be sure to attach the stem by 1 to 5 inches.
Acorn squash that isn't quite ripe yet can be eaten without any ill effects. Although you must consume immature acorn squash right away after picking it because it cannot be stored.
Acorn squash that has turned orange is overripe. Although the flavor may not be at its peak and the flesh may not be up to par, it is still edible. Additionally, orange acorn squash spoils more quickly, so you must consume it right away to prevent it from going bad.