Butternut squash is durable and can be stored throughout the year if harvested properly. But what if you have to harvest unripe butternut squash or the plant dies prematurely? Will the butternut squash ripen after it’s cured?
Butternut squash doesn’t usually ripen off the vine since it’s a winter squash. However, you can ripen butternut squash off the vine by curing it at the right temperature. Unfortunately, curing increases the risk of the squash rotting and may decrease its storage lifetime.
This article will look at whether you should harvest unripe butternut squash and whether it will ripen off the vine. It will also look at how to ripen butternut squash that’s picked when unripe. Finally, I’ll give you helpful storage tips on keeping your squash for longer.
Does Butternut Squash Ripen After Being Picked?
Always aim to pick butternut squash after it’s ripened since this variety ripens better on the vine. However, you may have to harvest the butternut squash before it’s ripe in some cases. In such a situation, you can’t store the squash and hope for it to ripen.
Butternut squash won’t ripen naturally off the vine and may remain unripe until the squash starts to rot. However, you can cure it at higher temperatures or in the sun. This will make the butternut squash ripe enough for consumption.
While some vine plants like pumpkins will ripen off the vine, winter squashes such as butternut squash won’t. Since fruit is usually picked in late autumn when the weather is colder, it’s unlikely that the fruit will ripen naturally, even if you leave it in the sun.
Can You Harvest Unripe Butternut Squashes?
Butternut squashes usually pollinate in late summer and may be ready for harvest in the early fall. Sometimes, the fruit will take longer to mature, and you’ll only be able to pick it up in late fall. However, this can be quite close to the early winter frosts, and you may have to harvest the butternut squash before it ripens.
You shouldn’t harvest unripe butternut squashes since they won’t ripen off the vine. However, if the plant dies and the fruit is at risk of getting damaged, or squash bugs attack it, then it’s best to harvest your butternut before it gets damaged.
You can harvest unripe butternut squashes if:
The Plant Dies From Early Frost
If the butternut plant dies from early frost, then it’s best to harvest your butternuts to prevent them from getting damaged. Butternuts lying on the ground are most at risk of getting infected by diseases or growing fungus. So, if your plants have died out and the butternuts are exposed, it’s best to harvest the butternuts even if they are unripe.
Squash Bugs Attack Your Plants
Squash bugs are a major problem since they attack the butternuts before they ripen and when the skin is still soft. If your crop is exposed to squash bugs, harvest them immediately, even if they are still unripe and haven’t been cured yet.
How To Ripen Butternut Squash off the Vine?
Unripe butternut squash won’t ripen off the vine, especially if you harvest it in the fall. The skin will still be soft on unripe butternut, and it’s at a higher risk of developing diseases. So, how do you cure an unripe butternut for storage?
You can ripen butternut squash by placing it in the sun for a few days or in a hot and humid room. Once the skin hardens, store the butternut in a cool and dry room. Unfortunately, if you harvest butternut squashes before the skin hardens, they may never ripen properly.
Follow these steps to ripen butternut squash off the vine:
- Leave 1-2 inches of the stem on the butternut when harvesting it. This stem usually dries out when the butternuts become ripe.
- Clean the butternut thoroughly with water. You can add 1/10th bleach to the water to kill any germs on the butternut’s skin.
- Place the butternut in the sun for a day or two. This will start the curing process and allows the skin to dry thoroughly.
- Place the butternut squash in a room with a temperature and humidity of around 85 degrees. Leave it for a week to 10 days to cure. The butternut’s skin will cure, and the fruit will start to ripen in the heat and humidity.
- Move the butternut and place it in a cool, dry room with a temperature of 50 °F (10 °C). You can store the butternut for several months at this temperature. However, butternut squashes that were cured off the vine won’t last as long as those cured in the sun, so you’ll have to check the butternuts regularly for signs of rotting.
How Long Do Butternut Squashes Last After Harvesting?
Butternut squashes are hardy and will last for several months to a year without rotting. However, this depends on where they’re stored, whether the butternut squash is cured on the vine, and the condition of the fruit before storage.
If you clean the butternuts properly before storage, they should last up to a year without rotting. However, butternut squashes that are exposed to water, food, and other moist elements are more likely to rot.
Unripe butternut squashes won’t last long after being harvested unless you cure them properly. When the butternut squash is unripe, the skin will be soft and can easily get damaged. This makes it much more difficult to store. However, if you cure the butternuts before storing them, you’ll be able to prolong their storage lifetime.
How To Properly Store Butternut Squashes?
Properly storing your butternut squashes could be the difference between keeping them for a couple of weeks and a couple of months. Butternuts are similar to other squashes and pumpkins and should be stored similarly.
Always store butternut squashes in a cool, dry place at the optimal temperature of around 50 °F (10 °C). The butternut squash will rot much faster if the temperature or humidity levels are too high.
Here are some storage tips to help keep butternut squash for longer:
Cure It Before Storing
Even if you harvest butternut squash after it ripens, you’ll still benefit from curing it. You can cure the butternuts by leaving them in the sun for a few days after harvesting. However, the best way to cure butternut is to place them in a room at 80-85 degrees for around ten days. This will harden the skin and make the butternut squash easier to preserve.
Make Sure the Storage Place Is Dry
Moisture and humidity will cause the most damage to your butternut squash and should be avoided at all costs. Consequently, avoid storing your butternuts in a moist room and keep them away from any source of moisture. As long as the butternuts remain dry, they shouldn’t rot.
Store the Butternut Squash at Cooler Temperatures
The best temperature to store butternut squash is 40-50 °F (4-10 °C). The cooler temperature prevents the fruit from rotting and will preserve it for longer. While you can store it at colder temperatures, the butternut may be exposed to moisture if the temperature drops below freezing.
Is Unripe Butternut Squash Edible?
While unripe butternut may taste bitter or sour, it can become edible if you cook it properly. The only problem with unripe butternut squash is that it doesn’t develop the same type of sweetness present in ripe squashes.
When cooking unripe butternut squash, you’ll have to add more spices and flavors to enhance its bland taste. Also, try cooking it thoroughly since unripe vegetables can cause stomach problems if undercooked.
Butternut squashes don’t usually ripen off the vine, even when left in the sun. However, if you place the butternuts in a warm and humid room for a few days, they will ripen slowly. You can also leave them in the sun for a few days to cure them and harden the skin.
If stored properly, butternut squashes will last a few months without getting rotten. You can prolong their lifetime by storing them in a cool, dry place and curing them to harden the skin before storing them.