If you’re looking for a vegetable that is sure to last you a long, long time and has many different uses, look no further than acorn squash! This versatile vegetable is amazing to have on hand and a piece of cake to store for later use.
With a lot of winter squashes, the trickiest part of growing them successfully is knowing when to harvest them.
Lucky for you, we know exactly when to harvest acorn squash and have all the information you need to know below.
Read on to find out when to harvest acorn squash!
When to Harvest Acorn Squash
How to Tell When Acorn Squash Is Ripe and Ready to Pick
There are four factors to consider when determining when to harvest acorn squash. Each and every one of them need to be correct in order for your squash to be at peak ripeness.
It’s important to account for them all because if don’t take time to learn when to harvest acorn squash, they won’t last as long as you want them to in your long term food storage.
From the day you see a teeny tiny baby acorn squash at the end of a blossom on the vine to when it’s ready to pick will be somewhere between 50-60 days. That means it’s a good idea to make a note of when you saw it first, count ahead 50-60 days, and set a reminder somehow to go and check for ripeness.
Another way to think about when to harvest acorn squash is to count from the day you plant the seeds. It will take somewhere between 75-100 days from when you put your acorn seeds in the ground to when you’ll have fully ripened fruit, ready to harvest.
When it comes to knowing when to harvest acorn squash, the color of the squash is another important factor to consider.
And when I say color, I don’t mean the deep green that it will be, because it turns deep green well before it’s time to harvest your ripened squash. The important color to look for is actually the color of the squash where it’s touching the ground.
If you’ve been tracking the time and you know you’re coming up on when to harvest acorn squash, turn your squash over and take note of the color of the squash where it’s sitting on the ground.
If it’s a deep orange color, it’s ready to harvest. If it’s any lighter, including a light orange, yellow, or still green, it’s not ready. Put it back down where it was and re-check again in a few days.
The texture of the rind also helps you to know when to harvest acorn squash.
Acorn squash and other winter squashes are ideal for longterm food storage because their thick rinds help them stay fresh for months and months. If the rind isn’t thick enough yet, it won’t store well.
To tell if your acorn squash’s rind is ready to harvest, your fingernails will come in handy.
One way to test is to gently scrape your fingernail across the rind. If it scars easily, it’s not ready. If it takes you applying more pressure to make a mark, it’s probably ready to harvest.
Another way to check is to just apply pressure with your fingernail in one place. It should take quite a bit of pressure to break the rind. A rind that’s easily punctured means it will go bad quickly.
The last thing to take into account to know when to harvest your acorn squash is the stem of the vegetable.
Acorn squash plants naturally start to die when the fruits they’ve produced are ready to harvest. If your acorn squash plants have been getting adequate water and sun and you’ve been tending to them and they’re still looking sad and turning yellow, odds are good that you’re getting close to when to harvest acorn squash.
If your acorn squash are hitting the other three marks for the most part, but the plant and stem are still looking green and healthy, wait just a little while longer to make sure the squash is a healthy as it can possibly be before you harvest it.
How to Harvest Acorn Squash
Now that you know when to harvest acorn squash, it’s important to know how to harvest acorn squash.
With some fruits and vegetables, it’s ok to simply pull the fruit off the vine, like an apple or green bean. That’s not the case when harvesting acorn squash!
To harvest your acorn squash, you need a very sharp pair of scissors or hand trimmers. The squash needs to be cut off above where the stem starts in order to be able to store it efficiently.
If it’s plucked off instead of cut off, it will go bad much more quickly.
When cutting the stem, make sure to leave at least an inch of stem on the squash. That ensures the squash will stay nice and hydrated while it’s being stored.
How to Store Harvested Acorn Squash
Once you know when to harvest acorn squash and how to harvest acorn squash, you’ve got to know how to store the squash! After all, the whole point of growing and harvesting winter squash is to add them to your food storage for use at a later time.
Harvested acorn squash need to be kept in a cool, dry place with temperatures somewhere between 50-55°F. Much hotter or colder than that and they won’t do as well. A cellar or a basement is a great option.
When you’re storing the harvested acorn squash, it is best to keep them in a single layer. They tend to not do as well if they’re piled on top of each other.
If you’re planning on using some of the squash relatively quickly, they can be stored in your kitchen at room temperature. They should stay good for 10-14 days on the counter.
Don’t cover them or refrigerate them. It will cause them to go bad at a much quicker rate.
When stored properly, acorn squash should stay fresh anywhere between two and three months!
How to Use Harvested Acorn Squash
Since you’re on this website, I think it’s safe to assume you’re looking for ways to live off the grid and use every bit of what you’ve grown with your own two hands. That’s why we’ll take just a minute to talk about how to use the acorn squash you’ve taken the time to learn about growing, harvesting, and storing.
Here are some simple recipes that will use and stretch your acorn squash.
How to Roast Acorn Squash — This recipe is great to pair with a protein as a side or as to enjoy as part of the main course.
Baked Acorn Squash — This recipe can be used in place of mashed sweet potatoes. It’s got a similar taste profile.
Acorn Squash Soup — This thick and savory soup can be made and frozen in advance and thawed in a post when you’re ready to eat it.
Acorn Squash Chips — This is an excellent use of the entire squash, because it uses the rind as well as the flesh. Check out our post on How to Make Dehydrated Food Last Longer.
Wrapping Up When to Harvest Acorn Squash
Winter squash make an excellent addition to your long term food storage lineup, so it’s worth knowing how to grow your own. Hopefully, you now have a good grasp on when to harvest acorn squash and you can get to growing your own!
If you want to know even more about food prepping and what you can do to be prepare for eating well no matter what’s going on in the world, make sure to check out our Survival World page all about food!