If you are growing spaghetti squash then you have been tending to your crop since early spring and are probably getting anxious to harvest the vegetable that will give you a yummy, nutritious alternative to pasta. You don’t want to pick your spaghetti squash too early. Then the squash will be difficult to flake into “noodles,” and may be a bit watery inside. You also don’t want to leave it in your garden too long where it may rot. Picking it at the right time is important. You don’t want your summer’s worth of work to go to waste.
How do you know that it’s time to pick your spaghetti squash? Here are some signs that your vegetable is ready.
1. Dark yellow skin – If your squash still has white or very pale yellow skin then it’s safe to say that it’s not ready to pick. A ripe squash will have a rich yellow color and possibly even a deep orange tone.
2. Hard skin – The squash will be ready to harvest when the skin is hard and thick. You can check it with your fingernail to make sure that it doesn’t “give” anywhere. If the skin still feels soft or has any soft spots then the squash needs a little more time to grow.
3. Dead Vine – When the spaghetti squash is ready to harvest the vine will shrivel up and turn brown. This is a sign to you that your squash is ripe and ready to go.
A spaghetti squash is a winter squash and will typically be ready to harvest in early fall (late September to early October). When you do pick your squash make sure that you leave at least a 2 inch “stem,” so that you do not damage the skin. After harvesting let the squash cure for a week in a warm dry place and then store in a cool dry place. The spaghetti squash has a long “shelf-life,” and will keep for a few months.
Cooking the spaghetti squash is easy. You can bake it, boil it, steam it, etc. You then take a fork and pull out the “noodles.” Use the flesh of the squash to substitute for any pasta in recipes. It has a mild slightly nutty taste that is very pleasing, and it is rich in antioxidants. The best part is, the kids won’t even realize that they’re eating their veggies!