Wondering how to determine if a squash is ripe, how to ripen it after harvesting, or how to store it correctly? This article provides all the necessary insights.
Determining Squash Ripeness
Many believe that the size and colour of a squash indicate its ripeness. However, this isn’t the case. To know if a squash is ripe, look for wilted leaves and stems around the vegetable. A ripe squash also makes a hollow sound when tapped. It’s not unusual for a ripe squash to have a dry stem, so there’s no need to worry.
Be mindful when handling squashes. Carry them carefully instead of holding them by their stems. This precaution helps to prevent injuries. Also, checking for bulges or slight cracks on the squash can help you avoid serious rot issues.
Ripening Squashes Post-Harvest
Once harvested, squashes can continue to ripen under favorable conditions. The ripening time after sowing is generally between 2 to 4 months, varying based on the type of squash. For instance, green spaghetti squash ripens in about 75 days, while Citrouille de Touraine takes about 100 days.
To aid the ripening process, all you need to do is cut, rinse, and dry the squash, then place it in a warm, sunny spot. Make sure to remove any foliage around the plant and aim to do this step before the first frost.
Proper Storage Techniques
Storing squashes is different from most vegetables as they require a warmer environment, ideally between 15 to 20°C. Store squashes in wooden crates, positioning them with their stems facing downwards. Ensure there’s sufficient distance between each squash to avoid any potential damage.
Exposing squashes to the sun enables them to dry up, reducing the water content in the flesh and hardening the skin. Always remember to clean the squash thoroughly before consuming it to eliminate any potential mold.
Ripening Green Squash
The ideal harvesting period for green squashes is from late September to October. Post-harvest, squashes need to be cut from the vine, washed, dried, and exposed to sunlight. Regular rotation will ensure even drying.
For quicker drying, consider cutting the leaves and roots of the crop. Store the squashes in a frequently monitored area to prevent mold growth. Green squashes are ready for consumption when they turn yellow. Stored properly, they can remain edible for up to 6 months.