When is the Best Time to Pick Spaghetti Squash?
Whether you have experienced the taste of spaghetti squash from the store or from a friend's garden, you know that its flavor is unlike that of any other vegetable. With strands that resemble spaghetti, this favorite winter squash is versatile and healthy. If this is the first time you have grown it, though, you may have questions about how to know when to pick it.
How Long Does it Take to Grow Spaghetti Squash?
Before you can decide whether your spaghetti squash is ready to pick, you first need to have an idea how long it takes to grow one. Unlike other winter squashes that take 110-120 days to harvest, spaghetti squash takes approximately 90 days. If you are nearing the 85-day mark, you should look for signs that your spaghetti squash is ripe.
What Does a Ripe Spaghetti Squash Look Like?
If you have been watching your spaghetti squash as it grows, you know that it starts out as a small, light green sphere. As it matures, the color changes from green to a pale yellow. The closer it is to harvest, the darker the fruit gets. Finally, when it is ripe, the spaghetti squash turns a dark golden yellow color.
Tip: Different varieties of spaghetti squash may be a different color when ripe. Be sure to check the seed packet to be sure what the final color should be.
Are There Other Signs of Maturity to Look For?
If you are uncertain about whether your spaghetti squash is ready to be picked merely by looking at it, there are other ways to gauge the ripeness of the fruits.
- The vines will look like they are dying. Regardless of how much water you provide, they will turn brown and wilt.
- The stems of the individual squash fruits will turn gray and start to dry out.
- Spaghetti squashes may fall off the vine spontaneously.
Tip: If a squash falls off the vine, pick and use it immediately. Without a stem, spaghetti squash spoils very quickly.
When Should You Pick the Squash?
If all of the above signs of maturity are present and the fruits are a dark yellow or golden color, it is likely they are ripe enough to be picked. However, there are two final criteria for mature spaghetti squash. One, the rind will be hard enough that you cannot scratch or dent it with a fingernail. Two, the fruit will sound hollow when you tap on it with a closed fist.
Keep in mind, too, that even spaghetti squash from the same plant can ripen at different times. Once the harvest is imminent, you should check the plants daily for newly ripened fruits. Although squashes taste the best when they are left to mature on the vine, leaving them too long can cause mildew or rot to infiltrate the skin.
Tip: If there are any soft spots on the squash, be sure to remove it from the garden or storage area immediately. Rot can spread quickly through the entire crop and ruin your whole seasons’ work.
What Can You Do With Spaghetti Squash?
One of the best features of spaghetti squash is how versatile it is. Many people on gluten-free or low-carb diets substitute this squash for their favorite pasta dishes. Because of its mild taste, you can use spaghetti squash like you would any other type of winter squash. You can bake it and season it with salt and pepper, roast it, or even steam it and serve it with butter and garlic.
Additionally, spaghetti squash is considered a long keeper. You can keep it the refrigerator for up to two weeks uncut, and as long as two months if you store it in a cool, dark area.
Regardless of which recipe you choose to prepare, spaghetti squash makes a great addition to your autumn dinner table. With proper storage, you can even serve it with your Thanksgiving meal for a new take on the traditional favorites. You might be surprised at how quickly it becomes a new family favorite.