Edibles

Squash: Harvesting and Storing Winter Squash

Squash: Harvesting and Storing Winter Squash

There are few things that satisfy the fall and winter dinner table like pumpkins and winter squash. It's even more rewarding to grow them yourself. With the right knowledge, you can turn your harvest into delicious and nutritious fare for months.

Check for Ripeness
Since you can't just open the squash on the vine to see if it's ripe, you have to rely on some outside indicators. Checking the color, sheen, and hardness of the rind is the best way to determine ripeness. Most squash change color when right, such as butternut that changes from a cream color to a rich tan. Many varieties also lose their glossy coat to a duller tone when ripe. Still not sure? Try denting the skin with your fingernail; a ripe pumpkin or squash may dent, but it won't poke through easily. The condition of the foliage and stems are other ripeness indicators. If the squash is ready, the leaves will be turning yellow and the stems will be hard, starting to crack, or turn brown. For cooler regions of the country, you'll see squash ripening around September and October. Warmer, southern climates should plan squash planting times so that they mature in September/October as cooler fall temperatures produce a better quality of squash.

Harvest
Harvest squash before the first hard freeze (below 28

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