October 3rd, 2012
Fall arrived early in my part of Virginia this year, approximately three weeks ahead of schedule. Leaves are turning ochre, crimson and gold, and the air is redolent with the scent of logs crackling in wood-burning stoves in the neighborhood. In the vegetable garden, the squash has begun to mature, and I wonder, “When can I harvest the acorn squash?”
Fall squash differs from summer squash in many ways, and one way is how they look and feel when they are ripe. Fall squashes are meant for winter storage, and therefore, the outer shell or rind must harden before plucking them from the vine. Summer squash turns softer when ripe; winter squashes, including acorn squash, harden.
Another clue to tell me when to harvest acorn squash is the color. Acorn squash begin as a pale green color and turn a dark, rich green the riper they get. Yellow spots are nothing to worry about; generally, any place where the squash is touching the ground is yellow or orange. It will taste just fine.
The last clue to tell me when acorn squash is ripe are the little vine-like tendrils growing near the stem where the squash attaches to the plant. As acorn squash ripen, these turn brown and brittle.
All three signs are a good indication that your acorn squash are ready for harvest. Store them in the refrigerator and enjoy during the fall and winter months.