Is there anything better than winter squash grown on grapevines in your garden? Absolutely not. Acorn, delicata, and kabocha are all lovely, but they don't compare to the delicate taste of butternut squash. But how do you know when to harvest butternut squash?
There are a few key things that indicate a pumpkin is ready to harvest. You need to pay attention to the time of year to know the right time to harvest. The vine itself also gives you an indication of when the fruit is ripe for picking. To top it off, there is also a drying and storage process.
Properly harvest butternut squash, cure it and you will find that you can save seeds for the pumpkin garden in the future. You can even easily harvest and eat green butternuts. Follow the tips here, watch out for the signs and wait for the timing to be right. You have a constant supply of butternut squash for soups, purees and side dishes.
At this point, you have the butternut squash in the garden. Now let's talk about harvesting your plants!
When should I harvest butternut squash?
Knowing when to harvest butternut squash is important. Source: Rigid
Usually butternut squash can be harvested in late fall or early winter. However, if you plant your pumpkin early enough, they could be ready by summer. So use other methods to determine if you have a fully grown pumpkin. It is possible that you will harvest at a different time.
The timing will vary depending on when you grow butternut squash. In general, butternut squash takes about 100 to 120 days from planting time to maturity. So, if you are growing butternut squash and you have planted seeds in late spring, start harvesting in late summer.
Expect some variation as different environmental conditions can speed up or slow down crop production.
Frost is a great indicator of when it is time to remove butternuts from the vine. Even if they are immature the day before the first frost, you will need to remove them from their host plants to avoid frost damage.
Butternut squash can still be eaten even if it's unripe, saving you seeds for the next season. That first frost will damage your fruit and ruin your harvest. So keep your ear on the ground when it comes to weather conditions.
Examine the stem of the pumpkin vine; When the butternut squash is ready to be harvested, the tips of the stems will dry and turn brown. This is because the vine no longer needs to provide nutrients to the fruit and the pumpkin is ready to be picked.
By stripping nutrients from the fruit, your winter squash vines can produce more for harvest.
Skin and bark
Check the peel to see if the butternut squash is ready to harvest. If you can pierce the skin with a fingernail, it's not about time. If the bark doesn't give in to your finger, you probably have a ripe pumpkin on the vine. Pair that with a browning stalk and you know it's time to harvest.
Ripe butternut squash is completely browned. That means a tan around the fruit. This refers to the most common butternut squash varieties. Green on these plants is an indication that they are immature.
However, with striped winter squash varieties, color can be a difficult way to tell when they're ripe. So use this in conjunction with other signs when growing less common strains.
Weight is another way to tell if your pumpkins are ready to be harvested. Butternuts usually weigh two to three pounds. If you're growing a variety other than your typical butternut, check the seed package to see if the pumpkin should be bigger or smaller. Since the color can vary, it is best to use this method in conjunction with other indications.
Overall, if you find that butternuts have stopped growing, it's time. Keep an eye on them throughout the growth phase and you will have a good idea of when to harvest.
How to harvest butternut squash
As the pumpkin approaches maturity, it turns an even brownish color. Source: CarrieA
It is important to harvest pumpkin carefully, as improper harvests will damage the rest of the plant in your vegetable growing area and the butternut that you have looked after for so long. Use secateurs to cut off the stem tips about one to five inches from the tip of the ripe fruit. A minimum of 2 inches is required.
Why keep the trunk?
Pumpkins without a stem do not keep very long and should be consumed immediately. But sometimes pumpkins fall off the vine. That is normal. Keep an eye out for these and cook them asap.
Winter pumpkin varieties like butternuts rely on a healthy piece of stem on top to keep out various bacteria that cause mold and rot. Even a handle that is too short can sometimes not be stored well. So try to keep at least a couple of inches of stem on winter squash, especially butternut.
When you harvest your butternut squash, watch out for other squash fruits in your yard that have brown bruises, cuts, nicks, and damage. Harvest these and use them as soon as possible.
Putrefaction occurs when the butternut squash is damaged, so remove it to avoid crop loss. Harvested tan and, earlier, unripe butternut squash are great when used in a variety of dishes. You don't have to worry if you have to use unripe butternuts when cooking.
Give the vines some space
Don't harvest butternut squash too close to the vines, as this can damage the rest of the plant. If you accidentally damage the vines, it is possible to cut off the damaged area. Just leave the tips a few inches away from each of the fruits growing there.
To keep production going, try to keep at least three fruits on the vine unless absolutely necessary to harvest.
Hardening butternut squash
After you harvest ripe butternut squash, cure it for storage. The ripening process enables fruits to be stored for longer. Curing hardens the skin of the butternut squash even more and slows breathing, which leads to putrefaction.
Curing winter squash also dries the skin and protects the inner pulp. Cured winter squash (including butternut) also has a sweeter and more pleasant taste than uncured butternuts.
If you've damaged pumpkin that has stood on wet soil for too long because it fell off your trellis posts or lines into the ground, discard them from your crop. They cannot be cured and should be cleaned and used immediately. Keep the seed in it for the next year. Then take care of the other pumpkins by going through the hardening process.
Start by wiping the surface of your pumpkin skin with a dry cloth to remove any debris from your vegetable garden. This reduces the possibility of bacteria or fungal pathogens attacking the bark.
Also, try to keep the pumpkin as dry as possible throughout the process from harvest to storage.
It is possible to cure unripe green pumpkin slightly, although it is better to leave the drying process on ripe fruits. However, when the first frost looms, it is best to harvest all of the pumpkin on the vine. Harvesting before the first frost is essential to keep your butternuts from frost damage.
Proper temperature and humidity are key to drying and storing winter squash like butternuts. Provide a relatively cool room for ripe pumpkins with 70 to 85 degrees and a humidity of 80 to 85 percent.
Provide good air circulation around the ripe, ripe pumpkins by hardening them on a grate. While you harden them, give them a quarter turn daily to properly harden the bark.
If you don't have an area with the right humidity and temperature, put one in a closet with a space heater. Remember that space heating should have an accurate thermostat. If it gets too warm, the cell structure of the pumpkin changes. Check the pumpkin regularly.
If you don't have a rack, create one with posts and chicken fences or tight, thick wire ropes. Weave the wire hatched to avoid damaging the ripe pumpkin. This will prevent you from losing the result of all the hard work you did from gardening to harvest.
Wait a week or two to remove the pumpkins for storage. By drying butternut squash, you ensure that the stem is fully cured. Hardened pumpkin stalks prevent bacteria from drying out and storing up.
If your fully grown winter squash dries up and you notice brown spots on the peel of the fruit, remove them from the area immediately and consume them after removing the damage with a knife. Brown spots on pumpkins indicate the potential for bacterial growth.
Do not cure winter squash in an area where other fruits are ripening, as gases released from other fruits during the ripening process can damage winter squash, such as butternuts. These gases cause forced breathing.
How to store butternut squash
Immature pumpkins have a greenish tinge. Source: found_drama
Store butternut squash in the refrigerator or cool cellar at around 40 to 50 degrees. Do not stack winter squash more than two deep on a rack that allows adequate air circulation. Winter squash, properly cured and stored in such conditions, will last up to six months.
You can also store butternut squash on a rack at room temperature. The only kick here is that you can't store the ripe, ripe pumpkin for as long as you would if it was cured. If you don't have the storage to keep them in a cooler place, no problem. They last up to three months.
If you want to keep the harvested pumpkin even longer, you can freeze it and store it in a freezer. Simply peel off the pumpkin skin, cut in half, remove the seeds to clean and save for future pumpkin nursery, and dice the pumpkin into 1 inch pieces.
Put them in an airtight glass container or plastic bag and store them in the freezer for up to 8 months. Alternatively, you can store pumpkin cubes in the refrigerator for up to a week.
If you want, puree the diced raw pumpkin into a puree. Pureed pumpkin can be kept in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days. It can be kept for 6 months in the freezer.
Dice the pumpkin just like you would for the freezer and dehydrate for two hours at 145 degrees. Then reduce the heat to 110 degrees for eight to ten hours. Dehydrated pumpkin will keep for up to two years in an airtight container.
If you think this is a long time to go, consider freeze-dried pumpkin from your garden. This is the best way to preserve it for a long time, green or ripe.
Outside of long-term shelf life, you have dried pieces that are very sweet due to the condensed sugar that concentrates as it dries. And these sweet cubes can be kept for up to 25 years!
To dry pumpkin this way, follow the same prep process as you would for freezing. Then place the diced or mashed pumpkin on a tray and place it in the freeze dryer until the sensor detects sufficient dryness.
Then, store the pieces or puree dust in an airtight container such as a mason jar. This will give you butternuts in summer, fall, winter and spring for years to come.
frequently asked Questions
Q: Should you wash butternut squash before storing?
A: Avoid using moisture on your butternuts as it can encourage the growth of bacterial and fungal pathogens. Instead, wipe them with a dry cloth before curing or consuming them.
Q: How can you tell if butternut squash has gone bad?
A: If the peel has dark spots and you cut open the pumpkin and find dark spots or mold, your butternut has gone bad.
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