How and when to harvest butternut squash

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Are you are a beginner gardener who wants to grow and eat beautiful fresh homegrown butternut squash but doesn’t know how to do it? I want to tell you that if there is a will, there is a way. If you have a strong desire to dive into the gardening profession, it would not matter if you have any prior experience in it or not. What matters is that you should have a keen learning attitude, and with that, you will become a master in growing and harvesting butternut squash.

I have made a complete guide for you in which you will get the answer of when to harvest butternut squash along with the solutions of what is butternut square? How to perfectly cut butternut squash, how to store butternut squash properly? and how to cure butternut squash? So let’s dive in.

What is butternut squash?

Butternut squash is a tan-colored oval-shaped squash that grows in winters. It is called butternut because of its buttery texture and deliciously creamy flavor. It is a fruit but can be cooked as a vegetable too. The seeds can be found in its bell-bottom part, which is not used in cooking but can be dried up and used for other purposes. Among all the vegetables and fruits, butternut squash is the easiest to grow.

It also contains a wide range of essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, fiber, iron, potassium, beta carotene, and niacin. These nutrients then convert into vitamin A which promotes healthy skin, strong bones and improves vision. Butternut squash is a must included component in all diet menus because of having fewer calories. The best thing about butternuts is that they can be grown effortlessly in bulk and stored for the long term.

When to harvest Butternut squash?

As you are a beginner gardener so you might probably ask this question when to harvest butternut squash? But don’t worry! You are not alone because this question is asked many times on the internet by many beginner gardeners who begin their gardening journey and now want to know when to grow butternut squash and how to grow them.

I will tell you when to harvest butternut squash so you can enjoy perfectly ripped and delicious butternut squash. Here are the two tricks to check if squash is ready for harvesting or not.

  1. Check the stem of the squash.

Observe the butternut squash’s stems closely. When the branches become dry and change their colour from green to brown, it means that now your butternut squash is ready to be collected.

  1. Insert your fingernail into the flesh of the squash

Butternut squash outer layer or skin becomes tan and hard when they are entirely ripped. To check if they are ready or not, slightly push your fingernail into the skin of butternut squash. If your nail does not get easily inside, it means they are ready.

You might also ask when to grow them? The answer to this question is that, just like pumpkins, butternut squash grows in summer or spring.

They get ready in 3-4 months which means that October or November is the best time to harvest them.

Experts suggest that you should harvest them before the frosting season begins in winter, but it would be best to cover them with some sheets during frosting if they are not entirely ripped. The longer they will stay on the plant, the tastier and healthier they will be. Although some experts would argue that they can get matured after harvesting by leaving them for 10-14 days, but the truth is they would be less tasty and would not be as healthy as they could be while getting ripped while hanging upon plants.

Four evident signs of mature butternut squash

Pay attention to these four evident signs of mature butternut squash if you want to answer when to harvest butternut squash.

  1. Change in Appearance

Ripped squash is deep tan (yellowish-brown color) squashes that have no stripes near their stems.

A squash that grows on a vine contains green vertical lines which disappear when squashes get matured. If your squashes still have green lines, wait for 1-2 weeks to let them disappear entirely.

  1. Length

Generally, squashes become ripped when they reach the length of about 8-10 inches, but it depends upon the soil. Therefore, observe their size daily, and if you notice that they have stopped growing, take a knife and harvest them.

  1. Stem

Brown cracked stem is a sign that they are ready to be collected. When a plant gets matured, it stops transferring nutrients to squash. Stem gets dried and changes its colour from green to brown. So it is an evident sign that now is the perfect time to harvest them.

  1. Hardness:

When their outer layer becomes stiff, it means that they are ready to harvest.

To conclude, long, tan-colored butternut squash with a hard outer layer and the brown dried stem is ready to be harvested.

Five things you must keep in mind when you harvest butternut squash:

Harvest butternut squash at their proper time. Don’t pick them before or after time because you won’t store them for longer if you do so.

  • Use a sharp cutting tool to cut them. Don’t pull them from the vine.
  • Cut them along with 1-2 inches of stem. In this way, they will be saved from bacteria and fungus.
  • If your squash is ready and showing all the signs of maturity and frost is expected in your area, try to harvest before 1-2 days of it because severe weather conditions can damage your butternut squash.
  • If frosting begins and your butternuts are not ripped yet, cover them with some sheet so they can’t get ruined.
  • Use those butternuts which are without stems or with naked pulp immediately and do not store them for too long because they are more likely to get bacteria.

How to perfectly cut butternut squash?

Knowing how to cut butternut squash is as vital as learning when to cut them. There are four things that you should keep in mind while cutting butternuts:

  1. Always use a large sharp scissor or a knife to cut them. However, it would look so tempting to pull and handpick them but don’t do that because it will ruin them.
  2. Cut them along with 1 or 2 inches of stem to avoid getting skin naked, which causes bacterial infection.
  3. When butternut squashes are damaged accidentally, use them immediately and not store them for a more extended period because they are more likely to catch bugs and bacterial infections.
  4. Do not eat damaged and cracked squash. Put damaged butternuts in the compost pile because they have caught bacteria and might be full of bugs. You can still practically use them by composting your plants with them.
when to harvest butternut squash

How to store butternut squash in a proper way

After knowing when to harvest butternut squash and how to harvest them, it is also essential to learn how to store them. Butternuts are produced in bulk and are of considerable size, so we cannot use all of them at once, so we need to keep them in the right way to stay fresh and use them later on. Butternut squashes are also known as winter squashes because they can be used the whole winter means one year if they are stored well.

After cutting butternut squash, create two piles of them. One bundle of beautifully grown and perfectly ripped butternuts and another of cracked and damaged butternuts. Now, after piling them, it is time to store them in the best possible way to be used for the long term. So we will look at how to keep both of them one by one.

  1. How to store undamaged squash:

The best part is storing the ideally grown butternuts, which is quite challenging compared to damage ones but keep these points in mind. Your journey of storing beautifully grown butternut squash will turn into a most productive and rewarding one.

  • Don’t put them in the refrigerator because they are stiff, and in the fridge, they will lose their toughness because of absorbing moisture.
  • Please don’t put them outdoor because they will catch bacteria.
  • Put them indoors in a cool and dry place. In this way, you can store them for about 5-6 months.

To conclude, Store them in a cool and dry place where the temperature should be 50-60 Fahrenheit and humidity should be 60-70%. A basement room would be an ideal place to store them. Butternut squashes can also last for about 10-14 days if they are stored at room temperature on a table or a shelf.

If you want to store them for an extended time, do not pile them on each other but instead place them with distance so their skin cannot touch each other because it can spread bacteria.

Check the butternut square which you have stored in the refrigerator weekly. If you see any rotten squash, take it out immediately.

Don’t store damaged or bruised squash for too long because they catch bacteria. Instead, use them immediately. Also, don’t store squash near pears, apples, and other ripped fruits. Ripped fruits create ethylene gas that decreases their storage life.

  1. How to store damaged butternut squash:

Until now, you know when to harvest butternut squash, how to harvest them and different ways to store the undamaged beautifully grown butternuts. Now is the time to store or use the cracked or damaged butternuts which caught bacterial infection with lots of bugs inside them while hanging upon the plants. Let me tell you that there is no need to store them because they will spread bacteria further. Just use them in your garden because damaged butternuts are great compost for plants.

  1. How to store cut squashes:

You can also store cut squashes if you want. Just cut them from the center and remove their seeds from inside with a spoon or scratching with a knife. After removing their seeds, cut them into medium to small pieces. You can also cut them in your desired shapes. For instance, if you want to use them in noodles, you can cut and store them in a sprinkle shape. After cutting them in your desired shape, put them in an air-tight container and store them in the refrigerator.

How to cure butternut squashes?

Curing is the process of treating plants in a specific manner to enhance their taste and increase their shelf life. Curing also heals any bruises and scratches on them.

Fortunately, curing butternut squashes is as easy as eating them. All you need to do is to place them in a place where they can get maximum sunlight. Place them there for about one week. Their outer layer will become hard in this duration, and all the excess moisture will be dried.

Some people prefer to cure them after harvesting by placing them in a warm room for 10-14 days, but in this way, they are not that much tastier and healthier as they could be while hanging upon their plant, so it is recommended to cure them before harvesting.

Final thoughts:

I hope in this guide; you got the answer to your question When to harvest butternut squash? And along with that, you also got the answers to some other questions which may arise in your mind during your journey of growing butternut, such as what is butternut squash? How to harvest them? How to store butternuts and how to cure them?

If you found this guide helpful or want to share any valuable tips or tricks regarding when to harvest butternut squash or about butternut squash in general with us, comment below. We would love to hear back from you.

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