Acorn squash is typically ripe 50–60 days after the squash is first visible on the vine. You can also tell an acorn squash is ripe if the underside of the squash is dark orange in color. The skin of a ripe squash will slightly resist being punctured by your fingernail while unripe squash will have fragile skin. Finally, if the acorn squash plant is yellowing and dying while the squash itself is firm and springy to the touch, it’s time to harvest.
Can You Pick Acorn Squash Too Early?
It’s very common for new gardeners to pick their acorn squash too early. This is due to the fact that acorn squash grows to mature size rather quickly. However, it’s important to be patient. Squash that is picked too early won’t taste very good. For the rich, buttery flavor of the acorn squash to develop, don’t rush your squash harvest. A squash picked too soon will have a bitter or flavorless taste.
Will Acorn Squash Ripen After Being Picked?
Acorn squash does not continue to ripen after it is picked. Although squash can remain undecayed for a long time after it is picked, it won’t get any better tasting once you cut it off the vine. So, if you want the best flavor and squash fruit texture, wait for the signs that your squash is truly ready.
5 Signs Your Acorn Squash is Ripe
You may have the urge to pick those dark green squashes as soon as they grow to full size, but hold on. Although your acorn squashes may already have grown to their mature size of 4–7 inches (10–18 cm) long, they may not be ready for your table just yet. Here’s how to tell whether you’ve got a patch of ripe acorn squash or not.
Check the Calendar
An acorn squash needs 50–60 days to become fully ripe after it first appears on the vine. Mark your calendar on the day you first see the immature acorn squash forming at the base of the squash blossom. That little squash will be ready to pick in less than 2 months.
Check the Color
Although the upper portions of the acorn squash will be dark green from the time they form until they ripen, there are still visible signs of ripening squash. Turn your acorn squash over. If the underside has a deep orange color, then your squash is likely ready to eat. If the underside is still green or yellow, the squash needs more time on the vine.
Test for Tough Skin
Press your thumbnail into the skin of the squash. If the skin texture is resilient and is a little difficult for you to puncture, then the squash is ripe. If the skin is very fragile and easily punctured, your acorn squash has not yet grown to full maturity.
Check the Vine
One signal of a squash’s condition is the plant it’s growing from. Squash vines are adapted to die off as the squash itself ripens. If you’ve been watering and caring for your squash but the acorn squash plant itself is yellowing or wilting, then that means the plant is nearing the end of its lifecycle. This is a sure sign it’s time to harvest your squash.
Springy to the Touch
While immature acorn squash is often hard, a ripe squash should be springy and resilient. Grip the squash and press with your thumb. A hard squash isn’t ready. A squash with soft spots is overripe. You should pick your squash when it’s got a little give and bounce as you squeeze it.
What Color Should Acorn Squash Be Inside?
Fully ripe acorn squash should have rich yellow to golden yellow flesh. If you slice into your squash and see yellow inside, it’s time to break out the brown sugar and cook acorn squash.
- Expect a yellow-to-gold color inside a ripe acorn squash.
- Unripe acorn squash will have very pale yellow flesh, often with hints of green.
If the acorn squash was harvested too soon, the inside will be very pale yellow, greenish-yellow, or green. A squash of this color may not have much flavor when you cook it.
Can You Plant Seeds From Acorn Squash?
One of the great things about squash is that your fall crop provides seeds for next year’s planting. Each acorn squash you harvest will have dozens of seeds. These can be planted in spring to provide you with a fresh crop.
- You can plant the seeds from your acorn squash to grow new vines.
- Scoop out the seeds. Then, wash and dry them.
- After allowing the seeds to dry on a paper towel for about 1 week, store them in a paper envelope.
- Your seeds will be ready to plant in spring.
Scoop out the seeds when you’re preparing to cook acorn squash. Wash them to remove any bits of flesh. Then, leave them out to dry for 5–7 days. They can then be safely stored in a paper seed package until next year.
When Should You Harvest Acorn Squash?
If you’ve got an acorn squash growing in your garden patch, the best ways to determine if your squash is ripe are:
- Wait 50–60 days after the squash appears on the vine before harvesting.
- Check the underside of the squash to make sure it is orange.
- Press a fingernail into the squash’s skin—if it resists puncturing a little, it’s ripe.
- If the vine the squash is growing on is wilting, the squash is likely ripe.
- If the squash is firm yet springy to the touch, it’s ripe.
Acorn squash makes an excellent meal. Just remember to be patient and wait for the signs your acorn squash is ready. You’ll get the best, most flavorful harvest by picking squash at peak ripeness.