acorn squash

When And How To Pick Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is a type of squash related to other summer varieties of squash, like zucchini. It’s often referred to as a winter squash because of its use in more winter culinary dishes. Acorn squash is an easy type of squash to grow that produces delicious food straight from your garden. Knowing when and how to pick an acorn squash is key to getting the most out of your plant.

When are acorn squash ready to pick

acorn squash

The best way to tell that you have a fully ripe acorn squash that’s ready to be picked is by examining the lighter-colored spot where the squash touches the ground. The flesh of acorn squash is typically dark green, but at the point where the squash touches the ground, it’s much lighter in color. When the squash is still underripe, that spot will be a bright yellow color. When your acorn squash has fully ripened, that spot will turn from yellow to a darker orange color. That is the best way to tell that your squash is ready to be picked.

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You generally don’t have to be in a rush to harvest your acorn squash. They have thick, hardy shells that mean they won’t quickly deteriorate if they aren’t harvested at the right time. You can wait for the plant to die back before picking your winter squash. This will guarantee it’s ripe, provided the plant grew properly.

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How to pick an acorn squash

Picking acorn squash is easy. Most varieties will ripen after about 100 days, but you don’t need to be in a hurry to harvest your squash. Acorn squash is a winter squash with a tough outer rind that will prevent rapid decay once ripe. That means you can actually allow the entire vine to die back in the fall before harvesting your acorn squash.

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When it comes time to pick your acorn squash, it should be able to easily twist and remove from the vine. You can take a set of shears out with you to snip it off the vine. But it is very important to be certain that the squash is fully ripe before picking it. You can refer to the section above this for further information on when acorn squash is ripe.

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How to store acorn squash

Storing your acorn squash is a two-step process. Once you’ve picked your acorn squash, you should cure it in a warm, high-humidity location. Ideally, this location would be about 80 degrees and humid. A greenhouse would serve this purpose pretty well, or a very warm room in your house. Cure your squash for 10 days.

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After it has fully cured, you can store your acorn squash either in a cellar or refrigerator. In the fridge, your squash will remain viable for about 2 weeks. You can store your acorn squash longer in a cellar, about 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. In a cool, dry cellar, acorn squash will store for about one month.

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Can you eat unripe acorn squash?

If you’ve accidentally picked acorn squash when it wasn’t quite ripe yet, it’s probably not going to be very good. Unripe acorn squash tends to be watery and bland. Despite some reports to the contrary, in reality, your acorn squash needs to be attached to a vine in order to ripen. If you pick an unripe acorn squash, it will not continue to ripen – its unripe flavor and texture is locked in when you pick it. It’s important to allow your squash to fully ripen on the vine before picking.

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How many acorn squashes will you get from one plant?

Most squash plants are extremely productive. Summer squash, like zucchini, seems to produce more squash than you could possibly need. But acorn squash is a little more subdued in its productivity. Typically, you can expect to get 5-7 nice, ripe acorn squash from each plant.

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Thomas Nelson
Environmental Advocate
Thomas is an environmental advocate currently residing in the Pacific Northwest. In his spare time, he enjoys experiencing the outdoors, raising chickens and ducks, and reading about current environmental issues. Despite slight colorblindness, his favorite color is green.
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