How to tell when squash is ripe?

In the brief guide, we are going to answer the question ‘How to tell when squash is ripe’ with depth analysis of which steps to keep in mind to identify it.

How to tell when squash is ripe?

Make a hole in the flesh with your fingernail. If you have to work to pierce the squash, it’s ripe; if it’s very easy, it’s immature. Without blemishes, cracks, or soft spots, the skin should be full (non-glossy), firm, and rich in color. Dry and firm stems are preferred.

How do we select squash at the store?

Choose squash with matte, dark beige skin

Squashes that are light yellow or have green patches, as well as those with a shiny exterior, should be avoided. A squash with a shiny or waxy exterior has been picked too early.

On the outside of most squashes, there will be a large pale spot. This is simply where the squash rested on the ground, and it isn’t an indication that it isn’t ripe.

Choose a squash that is free of cuts, soft spots, or brown marks

It’s fine if the squash has blemishes on the surface, but cuts or soft spots on the rind can lead to mold or rot, so avoid them. A squash with brown marks should also be avoided.

Frost causes brown marks on squash, which indicate that the squash will have an unpleasant texture and will not last long.

Make sure the stem of the squash you choose is still attached

If you see a butternut squash with a missing stem at the store, it may be overripe.

Look for a squash with a firm stem that is dark brown. A squash without a stem will rot more quickly than one with one.

Choose a heavy squash 

Pick up squash with a dark, uniform beige exterior that is free of cuts and blemishes and compare its weight to that of other squashes. 

Before choosing a squash, look for a hard exterior

Use your fingernail to gently press into the squash’s surface. It’s possible that your squash isn’t ripe enough if the nail goes through with little resistance.

When you tap on a squash, it should sound hollow

It will take some practice to distinguish the sound of ripe butternut squash from that of an unripe one. Asking a grocery store employee or a butternut squash grower at a farmer’s market for assistance is the best way to learn.

How do we harvest squash in the garden?

Allow the squash to reach a length of 8–12 inches (20–30 cm)

It will be close to harvesting time when your squash reaches this length and stops growing.

Before harvesting, wait for the stem to turn brown

The stem of a butternut squash changes color from green to brown as it ripens. Leave the squash on the vine a little longer if the stem is green. When the squash is ready to harvest, the stem will be brown and dry in addition to being brown. 

A golden or dark beige color is ideal. 

The skin of ripe butternut squash has an orange-ish tan color to it. Also, select a squash with a consistent color. The darker the squash color, the better. It isn’t ripe if the squash is light yellow or has green patches or lines on the outside.

How do we preserve squash?

To extend the life of your squash, store it somewhere cool and dark

If stored in a cool, dark place, a harvested butternut squash can last up to 3 months. A good storage location would be your basement, crawl space, or cellar.

If you’re going to cook your squash soon, keep it at room temperature

When stored at room temperature, a ripe squash will last about 14 days. Before storing the squash, remove any plastic packaging. To keep the texture of unsliced butternut squash, avoid refrigerating it.

After slicing open the squash, store it in the refrigerator.

If you refrigerate your squash after slicing it open, the pieces will last for 2–4 days. Place freshly sliced squash pieces in an airtight container or sealable freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air before placing them in the refrigerator. 

Label the bag or container with the date and time you kept it refrigerated.

Cooked squash can be refrigerated or frozen to extend its shelf life. In the refrigerator, cooked butternut squash will last for 4 to 5 days. Butternut squash will keep its fresh flavor in the freezer for about 10 to 12 months. 

Other FAQs about Squash that you may be interested in.

Can you freeze acorn squash?

Can you eat yellow squash with diverticulitis?

Can you eat yellow squash with brown spots?


In the brief guide, we discussed answering the question ‘How to tell when squash is ripe’ with depth analysis of which steps to keep in mind to identify it.