When to pick spaghetti squash?

Determining Spaghetti Squash Ripeness: Will Spaghetti Squash Ripen Off The Vine

Before you begin harvesting your spaghetti squash, you must first determine if your squash is ripe and ready to be cut from the vine. It’s 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’s 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 learn 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 doesn’t 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’re probably good to go. However, if it’s still soft, then it won’t 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.

My spaghetti squash are going berserk this year. There are at least six growing on one plant! Even though they started growing at about the same time, they aren’t all ready to pick yet.

It can be tricky to know when spaghetti squash are ripe. You want to wait until they’re ready to pick or you’ll end up with a tasteless, bland veggie–and that’s not good eats.

Here’s how to know your spaghetti squash are ready to harvest.

The skin should be a deep, golden yellow. See how the one hiding in the back is still pale? He needs to stay and grow a bit longer.

When you’ve found a likely suspect, double-check that it’s ready by trying to pierce the skin with your thumbnail. The skin of the spaghetti squash should be thick and hard–you shouldn’t be able to poke through it.

Use a nice, sharp pruner to cut it off the vine with about an inch of stem attached. By the way–I absolutely LOVE this Felco F-6 pruner. It’s made for smaller hands, so I can use it easily without having to grab one handle with each hand (like I do with conventional pruners). Yes, the Felcos are a bit expensive, but they are sharp as all heck and cut through *everything* like butter.

I harvested the three spaghetti squash that were ready, and we’re looking forward to using them in lots of recipes.

P.S. One of my favorite ways to make a fast dinner with spaghetti squash is to cook it in the Instant Pot (7 minutes!) and top it with my Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce. Boom…dinner’s ready. 🙂

Rachel Van Pelt/Demand Media

Spaghetti squash is a mild-flavored variety of winter squash that absorbs surrounding flavors. When cooked, the flesh separates into long, crunchy strands that resemble spaghetti, hence its name. It is frequently used in dishes that call for the pasta. Ripe spaghetti squash should be about 9 inches in length and feel heavy, weighing between 6 and 9 pounds. While it is not necessary to refrigerate whole, uncooked spaghetti squashes, they typically last two to three months if kept in a cool, dark place. A few key indicators will help you tell if your spaghetti squash has gone bad.

How to Tell When Spaghetti Squash Goes Bad

Rachel Van Pelt/Demand Media

Examine the spaghetti squash’s stem or the area where the stem was attached. It should be dry and rounded. If the stem is black, moist or shriveled, the squash is beginning to rot.

Rachel Van Pelt/Demand Media

Look at the rind. Depending on the variety, the rind of a fresh spaghetti squash should appear pale yellow, ivory or light orange and have a dull sheen. Shiny, cracked or watery-looking rinds, or brown or dark yellow spots on the rind, indicate the squash is rotting.

Rachel Van Pelt/Demand Media

Feel the rind. A spaghetti squash has a very hard rind that, when fresh, is very difficult to scratch with your fingernail. If the rind is easily scratched with a fingernail, has soft spots, gives when squeezed gently or just generally feels mushy, the squash has gone bad.

Rachel Van Pelt/Demand Media

Smell the squash, especially near the stem end. A fresh spaghetti squash should not have a strong odor. If the squash smells pungent, it is decaying. This may not be easily determined in an uncut spaghetti squash that is just starting to rot, but will be very noticeable when the squash is cut open.

Rachel Van Pelt/Demand Media

Using a large, sharp knife and cutting board, cut the spaghetti squash open lengthwise and examine the flesh. The flesh inside should be solid and brightly colored, corresponding to the spaghetti squash variety. If it has spots, is discolored or the color is very dull, it is going bad. If the flesh is soft and mushy, or appears very dry and is pulling away from the walls of the rind, the squash is rotten.

Tip

Cooked spaghetti squash will last approximately one week in the refrigerator and for three months in the freezer.

Warning

When storing, do not stack spaghetti squash. If one squash in the stack goes bad, it can spread to the surrounding squashes.

How to Tell if Your Spaghetti Squash is Ripe

What Spaghetti Squash Looks Like

Spaghetti squash is one of the winter squash varieties where a bright yellow color is a good thing. An unripe spaghetti squash will be a pale green or very light yellow, while a ripe one is a gorgeous, sunny yellow or golden color.

The inside of a ripe spaghetti squash can be a variety of colors, from a lemon yellow to a light orange. The final color depends on the spaghetti squash type you planted.

Tip: There are types of spaghetti squash that remain a pale cream color, but the most common variety is yellow. Look at your seed packet to be sure what the final color should be.

Other Signs of Maturity

When you plant your spaghetti squash seeds, you should also take note of the number of days from planting to harvest. For most spaghetti squash, the growing season is 90 days. Since not all squash will mature at the same rate, you should start checking your plants daily at about 85 days after planting.

When inspecting your spaghetti squash for ripeness, you should look for the following signs:

  • Vines that appear withered and close to death, despite having been watered.
  • Stems that are dried out and turning a silvery-gray color.
  • Skin that is bright yellow or gold.
  • A thick rind that does not bruise or scratch when you poke it with a fingernail.

When to Harvest the Squash

If you have noticed all of the signs of maturity, you can safely harvest the spaghetti squash. In fact, if you do not collect the fruits as they ripen, you can easily waste a lot of squash before you realize it! If you leave mature squash on the vine too long, it may soften and begin to rot. This is especially true if the colder autumn weather has not yet arrived.

Arm yourself with a sharp knife and a pair of gloves to protect your hands from the bristly vines. Then, hold the fruit in one hand while you slice it off the vine. Be sure to leave at least 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of stem on each spaghetti squash. Leaving some stem helps protect the flesh from bacteria, which in turn makes it remain fresh for a more extended period.

Tip: Once the squashes have begun to ripen, check your crop daily and harvest them as soon as they are ready.

How Long Will Squash Last Off the Vine

If you store it correctly, it can last as long as 3 months. Make sure you keep it in a cool, dark room where the temperature remains between 50-55°F (10-13°C ). Additionally, store the squash with some room for air to flow between each one. If you do this, you should be able to extend the fruits of your harvest for some time.

Tip: Keeping spaghetti squash in the refrigerator is not recommended unless you plan to use it within a week or two.

How to Use Spaghetti Squash

There are myriad ways to use up your ripe spaghetti squash. For example, many people on low-carb or gluten-free diets use the pasta-like strands in place of traditional spaghetti. You can also chill the cooked squash and use it for a copycat pasta salad. May people also bake it and serve it with butter as a delicious side dish.

However you decide to prepare your spaghetti squash harvest, you will certainly enjoy the fresh taste of the ripe fruit.

When To Pick Spaghetti Squash (And, How To Ripen And Store Your Gourd!)

So, you’ve grown your first crop and things are looking good. However, knowing when to pick spaghetti squash is almost as important as those green fingers of yours if you want to get the most from your harvest.

Going in with the secateurs too early or too late can be problematic, so you’ll want to get it right. Hopefully, this post will give you all the pointers you need to gather your spaghetti squashes at exactly the right time.

First, though, for anyone who has landed here out of curiosity, we’ll take a really quick look at what this fabulous fruit is all about before digging into when to pick them.

What is spaghetti squash?

A spaghetti squash is a winter vegetable (although, technically it’s a fruit) that is a fine alternative to its pasta namesake when you want to lower your carb intake or simply up the veggie count in your diet. A relative of the pumpkin, spaghetti squash (sometimes referred to as vegetable spaghetti) is pretty easy to grow, and they’re fun to cook with, too.

While their appearance may be similar to other squashes, it’s the difference when cooked that sets them and apart and earns them their name. In its raw form the inside looks unremarkable, but once cooked the squash offers up beautifully long, fibrous strands that resemble, you guessed it, spaghetti.

Taste-wise, spaghetti squash is a pretty bland veggie; think somewhere between a very mild pumpkin and zucchini and you’ll be in the right ball park. However, as its texture and appearance is so reminiscent of angel hair pasta, this isn’t much of a problem. Spaghetti is to be eaten with a delicious sauce, right? So, ladling a good vegan sauce atop spaghetti squash is the way to go.

NO SQUASH? CHECK OUT OUR VEGGIE NOODLE MAKER REVIEWS!

The lifecycle of a squash

Like all plants, the spaghetti squash plant goes through certain stages throughout its life:

Germination

Spaghetti squash seeds are very similar to butternut squash seeds, albeit a little paler in color. These flattish, oblong seeds are relatively simple to germinate in the correct conditions and will often sprout seedlings within 3-4 days. The stem will appear first with its seed leaves before growing proper leaves a few days after these are seen.

Vine growth

Once the spaghetti squash’s seedlings have gathered strength, the next stage is vine growth. As it is a winter squash, be prepared for some serious vine growth! For this reason, many gardeners train their spaghetti squashes to grow on trellises rather than leave them sprawling along the ground.

Flowering and fruiting

Spaghetti squash, like all other squashes, have both male and female flowers. Male flowers will generally appear first and are ladened with pollen ready for the the female flowers to appear so the bees and other insects can do their thing. Female flowers are pretty easy to spot, as they’ll usually have a tiny squash directly below the blossoms.

Once the female flower has been fertalized successfully, the miniature squash will begin to grow and the flower will start to dry up before eventually falling off altogether. Unlike summer squashes, which can grow rapidly and be ready for picking within just a few weeks, winter squashes take a lot longer to reach harvesting stage. Which brings us nicely to…

When to pick spaghetti squash

Knowing when to pick spaghetti squash is as important as knowing how to grow them in the first place. Here are a few handy tips to ensure that you harvest your crop at exactly the right time:

Color check

Perhaps the most obvious tell-tale sign of ripeness is the color of your spaghetti squash. What you are looking for is anywhere between off-white creamy coloration, through to a deep yellowy, golden hue. You’re also looking for an evenness in their color, too. A good, solid color across the whole of the rind is a decent indication of ripeness.

The key indicator color, though, is green. If your spaghetti squash still has a greenish tint to it, leave it where it is; it’s not ready yet.

The video below gives you an excellent visual guide to what a nicely ripe spaghetti squash should look like:

Firmness

A properly ripe spaghetti squash should be firm to the touch, almost hard, in fact, and a good way to check is to use your fingernail.

Once you are happy with the color, give your squash a prod with your nail to see if you can make a dent. If you feel as though your fingernail will puncture the rind; the squash isn’t ready yet and needs a little more time on the vine.

Scratching the skin, too, can be a good indicator. Again, if the rind feels in any way soft or spongy, the squash needs more time to mature.

If there’s no give at all and the squash feels hard and solid, it’s time to reach for the pruning shears, your fruit is ready to pick.

Other checks

If your fruit has been on the vine for a while and you’re looking to check for over-ripeness, there are a couple of things you can look out for.

Just as when a spaghetti squash is under-ripe, an over-ripe fruit will be softer to the touch, but in an altogether different way. When pressed, if you’re finger feels as though it’ll break the skin under pressure, then your squash has probably gone too far and become over-ripe.

Another tell-tale sign of over-ripeness is bruising or discoloration. If you spot any obvious blemishes on your fruit, take a closer look and perform the finger test above.

Checking the squash as soon as you see the color change from green to yellow is the best way of preventing over-ripening of your squashes, so be sure to give them a once over daily.

Will spaghetti squash ripen off the vine?

Now, there may be instances when you’ll want to remove you fruits from the vine early, such as an impending frost, for example, which begs the question, Will spaghetti squash ripen off the vine?

The short answer is, yes it will. However, there are a few things you need to know.

There is absolutely no substitute for ripening your spaghetti squash fully on the vine. While it is indeed possibly to bring your fruit on once it has been removed, you will undoubtedly lose flavor.

Then there’s the question of how unripe your squash can be if you want to ripen it off the vine. The rule of thumb is that green squashes which have hardened well can become ripe after being removed from the vine, but soft, immature fruits will never ripen.

Alternatives to ripen off the vine include trimming back the leaves surrounding the fruits so that more sunlight can reach them and speed up the ripening process whilst still attached to the vine.

How to ripen spaghetti squash off the vine

First of all, you need to get those green squashes off of the vine. Cut them down with a good pair of pruning shears, leaving around 2 to 3 inches of vine attached to the fruit.

Once removed, your first job is to give them a good wash. Squashes are especially susceptible to mold, and the last thing you want is a load of rotten fruits only fit for composting. Be sure to dry them properly, too.

Now washed and dried, your squashes are ready to ripen. The best way to do this is to put them out in the sun, turning them daily to ensure all sides receive their share of rays. If sunlight is in short supply, spaghetti squash will ripen indoors, but it’ll probably take considerably longer.

If you are ripening yours outside, be sure to keep an eye on overnight temperatures. If an overnight frost looks likely, bring them indoors to avoid losing them to the cold snap.

How to store spaghetti squash

Now you’ve got your harvest off of the vines and your squashes are all nicely ripened, you’ll obviously want to know how best to store them. Thankfully, storing spaghetti squash is pretty easy.

The key things to remember when storing spaghetti squash are heat and moisture. If you can maintain a cool and even temperature of around 60°F in a dry part of your home, your squashes will keep for up to three months…perfect for getting through those winter months!

Somewhat counterintuitively, refrigerating spaghetti squash will speed up its deterioration. This is because although a refrigerator is a good place for keeping things cool, it’s lousy at keeping things dry. Fridges are full of moisture, so you can expect a whole squash to keep in a refrigerator for only a fortnight or so.

Once cooked, it can also be frozen. If done correctly, you can extend your squashes life to as much as six to eight months with this method. Check out how to freeze spaghetti squash here.

I think that’s everything! Now you know exactly when to pick spaghetti squash and what to do with it once you’ve taken it from the vine. If you have any additional tips you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment below!

It seems like every year there is one plant or crop that stands out, sometimes because of its success and sometimes because of its abject failure. This year the spaghetti squash has been the star of the show. I saved the seeds from a squash from a farmers’ market and started them in little six packs. I was starting several other kinds of squash as well. This year’s garden was slow to get started as we had a prolonged cool spring. By the time things started growing I had forgotten which squash was where. Most of the squash stayed politely where they had been planted, but the spaghetti squash took off running.

Soon it had grown through my tomato cages, escaped the bounds of my raised beds and started up the climbing roses. I would whack it back every now and then to leave room for the other vegetables. After it began flowering and setting fruit, I was amazed at the size of some of them. Some were like small watermelon. Now they have turned from green to orange instead of the expected yellow.

Spaghetti squash (Photo by Karen Metz)

For those of you not familiar with spaghetti squash, it’s a winter squash that when halved, seeded, and cooked, has flesh that can be separated into spaghetti like strands with a fork. Squash are famous for their ability to cross pollinate so I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t a bit of pumpkin in this squash’s background. I guess I won’t know until I try and cook them.

When I went on the web to try and look up the proper timing of the spaghetti squash harvest, I had my first exposure to garden forum humor. When others had asked a similar question, the answers had ranged from when the water is boiling to when the meatballs are ready. Apparently the real answer is to let the color change from green to yellow and to wait til the skin thickens, hardens, and cannot be pierced with your fingernail. Then the squash will be able to be stored for months.

Spaghetti squash: pale yellow strands make a different kind of ‘pasta’

Zucchini may be the most prolific squash in the garden, but spaghetti squash is really the most fun. If you haven’t tried it, look for a yellow squash about l0 inches long that looks like a golden watermelon.

Inside there are thin, pale yellow strands that look like spaghetti. This squash has a mild flavor, like many other summer squashes, but it also has a pleasant, crunchy texture.

My favorite way to fix it is to add butter and grated cheese, but it can be cooked and served in many different ways.

Although recipe directions often say to cook the squash whole either in a large kettle of boiling water or by baking it, I find the simplest way is to halve or quarter it, remove the seeds, and steam, boil, or bake the pieces until soft.

Some cooks recommend cooking the whole squash by boiling about 45 minutes. Then cool and peel, slice horizontally, remove seeds, and fluff out the spaghetti strands.

You can serve the spaghetti squash with butter or with meat sauce as you would with any pasta. I have had it with creamed chicken and mushrooms, white clam sauce, in a shrimp salad, in biscuits, and baked in a pudding.

Here’s a recipe for a simple sauce, but you may add your own variations. Spaghetti Squash Sauce 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 medium onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 6 fresh tomatoes Basil, oregano, salt, pepper, to taste 1/2 pound cooked ground beef Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add tomatoes and simmer until mixture thickens slightly, then add seasonings. Add meat and simmer a few minutes.

Serve over spaghetti squash and top with grated cheese if desired. Spaghetti Squash Casserole 1 large spaghetti squash 2 small onions, finely chopped 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup 1 cup sour cream 1 small jar pimentos, chopped 1 cup shredded carrot 1 8-ounce package herb-seasoned stuffing mix 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Boil squash whole in water to cover 30 to 45 minutes, until fork tender.

Cut in half lengthwise when cool and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Scoop out flesh close to the skin and with a fork fluff out the spaghetti-like strands. Cool and drain in a colander.

Combine onion, soup, and sour cream. Add carrot and pimento. Fold in squash. Combine stuffing mix and butter.

Spread half of stuffing mix in a l2-by-6- by-2-inch baking dish. Spoon vegetable mixture on top. Cover with remaining mix. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes or until completely heated.

This can be made in advance and refrigerated until ready to bake, or it can be frozen. If frozen, thaw before baking. Serves 6.

Notorious B.I.G.’s ‘Ready to Die’ Gets a Deep Dive in ‘Birth of Biggie’ Mini-Documentary

Following its excellent Beastie Boys “Still Ill” mini-documentary, Amazon Music has released The Birth of Biggie: 25 Years of Ready to Die in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Notorious B.I.G.’s blockbuster 1994 debut album, “Ready To Die.”

While this mini-doc obviously doesn’t have the same level of access that its predecessor did — its subject died 22 years ago — it has a similar tight focus on a specific era and an emphasis on people who were actually with Big at the beginning of his professional career. In it, we hear from “Ready to Die” producers Easy Mo Bee and DJ Mister Cee, former Bad Boy/Arista Records promotion SVP Rob Stone (now co-CEO of Cornerstone Agency) and biographer Cheo Hodari Coker, as well as rare archival audio interviews with the late rapper himself. (While usual suspects like Diddy, Big’s mom and others are not featured in the doc, they’ve spoken their piece in several other documentaries and probably would not have had much new to say.)

Similar to the way the Beastie Boys doc focused on the group’s five-year creative peak, this one zooms in on the period between when Big was transitioning from underground buzz to being discovered by Diddy (a.k.a. Puff Daddy), which led to his record deal with Bad Boy, and the recording of the classic album that made his reputation as one of the greatest rappers of all time.

“When Puff heard me, he got me to the office,” Big says in the doc. “He was like, ‘Yo Money, this is a serious thing. You need to come up here. I’m really ready to sign you for some big money.’ Came down, let’s sign me, let’s put me to work.”

(Also in celebration of the album’s 25th anniversary, Rhino and GetOnDown.com are releasing a limited-edition boxed set that features every album track – plus two bonus tracks, “Who Shot Ya”?” and “Just Playing (Dreams)” – on nine 7” colored-vinyl singles.)

The producers and Coker also talk about the album’s deft balance of hard, hard street tracks and sweeter songs like “Juicy” and “Big Poppa,” as well as the true meaning behind its ominous title, “Ready to Die.”

There is also a companion long-form audio documentary of the same name, available only on and available to Prime members, which is a deeper dive with longer interviews. What are you waiting for? Check that out here and watch the video below.

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