Image by Cindy Funk
By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
Before you begin harvesting your spaghetti squash, you need to first determine if your squash is ripe and ready to be cut from the vine. It is always best if the ripening of spaghetti squash takes place on the vine; however, if the first heavy frost of the winter comes in a little earlier than expected, then it is possible to take the spaghetti squash off the vine and allow it to continue to ripen. We’ll talk about that a little later.
Determining Spaghetti Squash Ripeness
In order to harvest spaghetti squash correctly, you need to be familiar with how to determine whether or not the spaghetti squash is ripe. When the squash has turned a golden yellow or a dark yellowish color, it is usually ready to be picked.
The skin of the squash will be very thick and hard. If you use your fingernail to poke the squash, you will know it’s ripe if your nail does not penetrate the squash. There should be no soft spots on the squash whatsoever. In addition, the vine will shrivel up, die and turn brown in color when the squash is ripe and ready for the picking.
Can Squash Ripen Off the Vine?
One of the most commonly asked questions in regards to ripening winter squash is: “Will spaghetti squash ripen off the vine?” Unfortunately, the answer depends on how mature the squash is. If you can knock on the squash and it sounds and feels somewhat solid, you are probably good to go. However, if it is still soft, then it is not going to ripen off the vine.
How to Ripen Squash After Picking
If at the end of the growing season, which is generally late September or possibly even early October, you have unripened squash that you need to ripen off the vine, never fear, as it can be done. You don’t have to lose that green squash, so don’t you dare throw it away! Instead, here’s what you need to do:
- First, harvest all green, unripened spaghetti squash and cut them from the vine (don’t forget to leave a couple of inches of the vine).
- Rinse the squash and dry them off.
- Find a warm and sunny spot for the squash to sit and ripen. Squash cannot ripen without an adequate amount of sunlight. Make sure that the green side of the squash gets the most sunlight.
That’s it. Once ripe, your spaghetti squash should turn a nice golden yellow color.