How and When to Harvest Acorn Squash (Explained in Detail)
Acorn squash is a type of winter squash. It is planted, grown, and harvested like other type of winter squash. Timing is essential when harvesting acorn squash. So, when to harvest acorn squash? And how to do it.
Wear gloves and use a sharp knife or small pair of shears to harvest. The answer of when to harvest varies between being 80 – 100 days since planting and has become between 4 – 7 inches long.
How to Do the Harvesting
All it takes is a pair of gloves and a sharp knife or shears to harvest acorn squash.
Hold the stem about two inches from the fruit.
Cut the acorn squash from the vine.
Brush plant debris and dirt off the fruit.
If you opt to cut off the stem without using a sharp knife or shears, be gentle and make sure not to exert too much effort in pulling the stem.
Refrain from cutting too close to the fruit because it will make it susceptible to bacteria. It will decay faster, too.
Make sure to leave a few inches of the stem attached to the acorn squash to preserve moisture.
Cook the acorn squash immediately if it is getting soft or cracking. But if you have no intention of eating the acorn squash until another day, leave it attached to the vine to harden more.
However, it would be best if you harvested your acorn squash before the coming of heavy frost.
Harvest only ripe acorn squash. Leave the rest of the fruits on the vine to fully grow and ripen. If the weather is warm, it will continue to mature, and the sun will cure them.
When to Harvest
It takes about 80 to 100 days before you can harvest your acorn squash. Acorn squash grows to its full size quickly, but it takes a little more time before it reaches maturity and is ready for harvesting.
You may be tempted to harvest your acorn squash once you notice it has turned dark green and has grown to be about 4-7 inches long. Here are how to tell when to harvest acorn squash.
Number of Days to Maturity
An acorn squash becomes fully ripe after about 50-60 days of sprouting on the vine. Take note of the day you first notice the young acorn squash shaping at the bottom of the blossom.
This young squash will be ready for harvest in about a little over one month.
Check the seed packet. It typically indicates the number of days it will take for the acorn squash to mature.
This is essential information because some acorn squash varieties have varying maturity times.
You should also be aware that your area’s growing conditions and climate may affect the growing seasons. The best thing to do then is to monitor your plant’s growth.
Condition of the Vine
The condition of your acorn squash depends on the state of the vine from which it’s growing. As the squash ripens, the squash vines die.
If you have been caring and watering your squash plant but still notice it is wilting or yellowing, this means it is the end of the life cycle of your plant.
This situation is a sure sign of when to harvest acorn squash.
Color of the Squash
The color of your acorn squash is one of the easiest ways to tell when to harvest acorn squash.
An acorn squash that’s ready for harvest will have a deep orange color on the part that touches the ground, and the squash itself is dark green.
If it is still light orange, the squash is not ripe enough.
The upper part of the acorn squash is dark green from when it forms until it becomes ripe.
If the underside of the acorn squash is deep orange, then the fruit is ready to eat. Conversely, if the underside is still yellow or green, leave it on the vine to ripen.
Texture Of The Skin
When the underside of the acorn squash is a deep orange color, check the toughness of its skin.
Puncture the skin of the acorn squash with your thumbnail. If your thumb effortlessly penetrates the flesh of the squash, it still is not ripe enough.
If you need to exert effort to scratch its skin, then your acorn squash is already ripe for harvesting.
Color Of The Stem
The last inch of the stem connecting to the fruit of a ripe enough acorn squash will become withered and dry.
The Fruit of An Acorn Squash
The fruit of an acorn squash weighs about one to two pounds and comes with a light orange or yellow flesh.
Acorn squash is a helpful source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. An acorn squash has a slightly oblong shape. It comes with pointed ends, flat tops, and deep lobes surrounding the surface of the fruit.
What Happens if You Do not Harvest Ripe Acorn Squash?
Your acorn squash will get mushy and rot if you do not harvest it when it gets ripe enough.
If you harvest it too early, it will taste bland, watery, and will not store well. Harvesting an unripe acorn squash will not ripen after you harvest it.
Storing Acorn Squash
Wipe off the dirt from your acorn squash after harvesting. You can store the squash in cool, dark, and dry places, such as in the basement, root cellar, garage, or crawl space. With temperatures of between 400F and 550F, it can last for up to 3 months.
You can store them in your kitchen at room temperature if you eat or cook them in a few days. At average room temperature, they can last for 10-14 days.
Alternatively, thickly slice your acorn squash, cover the pieces with cling film and store it in the refrigerator, where it can last for up to 4 days.
Another alternative is to cook the squash and store it in the freezer, where it can last for up to a year.
When storing your acorn squash, you could place them in a single layer. Refrain from letting them touch each other because this encourages rotting.
The acorn squash seeds are the best way to decide if it has gone bad. Slice your acorn squash into two. If your squash has grey and slimy seeds, this means your acorn squash has gone bad or rotten.
Acorn Squash At Its Best
To best enjoy your acorn squash, it needs to be slightly firm and slightly sweet, yet not mushy and over-ripe.
Knowing the right time to harvest acorn squash can be tricky because they become dark green even before maturity and remain dark green even when they are already over-ripe.
The flavor of acorn squash will not be as good when harvested before it is completely ripe. It will not store well, too. It is, therefore, essential to know when to harvest acorn squash.
The acorn squash plant has a high yield, with some varieties, such as “Honey Bear,” producing up to five fruits per plant. By comparison, butternut squash yields an average of three to four fruits per plant, while most pumpkin varieties yield only one to two fruits per plant.
A delicious meal with acorn squash is packed with Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
Acorn squash is often steamed, baked, or pureed. It can also be used as a substitute for pumpkin in many recipes.
Timing is the most crucial element when harvesting acorn squash. Be patient and watch out for the signs telling you that your acorn squash is ready to be harvested.
Harvesting your acorn squash at the peak of its ripeness will give you the most flavorful and the best harvest.