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Choosing and Harvesting Your Acorn Squash

There is little doubt that acorn squash is one of the most popular winter squash varieties you can plant. It is easy to grow and maintain, tastes excellent, and you can safely store it for several months. However, none of that matters if you don't know the best way to pick it.

Choosing the Right Acorn Squash

The first thing you need to do when picking an acorn squash notice the color. Mature acorn squash has a very dark green rind, with a splash of orange or bright yellow somewhere on the squash.

Additionally, ripe acorn squash is dense for its size. Unlike a winter squash like spaghetti squash, an acorn squash is small but heavy.

Tip: Remember that not all fruits on the same plant reach maturity at the same time. Inspect all of the squash to find the ripest one.

How to Tell if the Squash is Ripe

In addition to monitoring the color of the squash, there are also other ways to tell whether or not your acorn squash is ready to be picked.

  • The vines appear brown and almost dead.
  • The stems of the acorn squash have started to dry out and turn gray.
  • The rind id too hard to dent or scratch with a nail.
  • The skin is a dull, dark green and orange.

Tip: Keep in mind that acorn squash will not continue to ripen once it is off the vine, so leave them in the field as long as possible.

The Best Way to Pick Acorn Squash

The easiest way to harvest an acorn squash is to arm yourself with a pair of gloves and a sharp knife. Holding the vine with one hand, cut through the stem. Leave several inches of stem at the top of each squash. The stem helps prevent bacteria from reaching the flesh inside the fruit.

Most winter squash have spiny vines, so your gloves will come in handy as you grab the vine to cut.

Tip: Do not carry the acorn squash by the stem, especially if it is not completely dry. The stem may break off, which can quickly lead to spoilage.

How to Use Acorn Squash

Since acorn squash does not store as long as other types of winter squash like butternut, you should plan to use them all within a month or so of harvest. Most people bake the squash, but you can also steam it, roast it, or even puree it for a pie!

The many uses for acorn squash make it simple to add fresh squash to your dinner table or in a favorite sweet dessert.