Your growing season is coming to an end and your squash isn’t ripe. Maybe you’re already experiencing some frosty weather and your unripe green squash is still languishing on the vine. You can still salvage your squash crop with a few simple steps. Unripe green squash doesn’t have to be a throwaway. Read on for a few tips on ripening squash.
How to Ripen Squash
Using a sharp, sterile knife, go ahead and remove all the squash fruits from their vines, leaving an inch or two (2.5-5 cm.) of stem on each one. Gently and thoroughly wash them in mild soap and water and rinse them well. Also, a great way to make sure they don’t carry any mold or bacteria into the ripening process is to dip them into some cool water that has a bit of bleach. Nine parts of water to one part bleach is plenty. If they aren’t super clean, they could develop spots from soil-borne diseases as they ripen. Once they’re dry lay the squash fruits out in a warm, sunny spot. It should be about 80 to 85 degrees F. (27-29 C.), with a humidity of around 80 to 85 percent. A greenhouse table or a sunny windowsill might be perfect for your unripe green squash to cure and finish the process of ripening. Avoid placing them near other fruits during this curing period.
Time Period for Ripening Squash
Check your curing squash occasionally, turning each one every few days to make sure they’re ripening evenly. It can take up to two weeks before they’re finally ripe and ready to store. Squash isn’t ripe until the rinds have become firm and hard and the fruit is evenly colored. Store your ripened squash in a cool, dry spot where the temperature stays around 50 to 55 degrees F. (10-13 C.). A cool pantry or even a box in the basement works well. Since they didn’t ripen naturally on the vine, you will want to use the hand-ripened ones first. No one wants to waste perfectly beautiful food from the garden. Saving and curing your crop of unripe green squash will provide a great delicacy to have on hand through the cool seasons.
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Caroline Bloomfield is Manager of Marketing Communications at Gardening Know How since 2019. A northwest native, she has resided and gardened in multiple zones in the U.S. and is currently at home in Eugene, Oregon. Writing and editing for various publications since 1998, her BA in American Studies from Southern Maine University includes an emphasis in English. She was raised in California by avid gardeners and continues to enjoy the natural world with an appreciation for the concepts of sustainability and organic care for the planet.
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