Winter Squash

Get The Most Out of Your Winter Squash from Backyard Eats

Harvesting Winter Squash

When It’s Ready
  • Winter Squash is ready to harvest in the early fall, before a frost
  • Once the squash has reached your desired size
  • When the stem of the plant becomes more brown/woody and begins to crack, this is an indicator that the squash is ready to pick
  • Mid-late September – first frost
When It’s Too Late
  • If any signs of frost damage, pest damage, or rotting are present.
How To
  • Use a good pair of pruners or sharp knife to cut the fruit from the vine
  • Leave 2-3″ of stem on the fruit
Notes on Melons
  • Melons – such as cantaloupe and watermelon – exhibit many of the same signs as pumpkins when ready to harvest, but mature earlier in the summer
  • Typically, melons mature in the summer months 80-90 days after planting
  • Look for a sweet aroma, cracking near the stem, and the fruit slipping easily from the vine
  • Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut the melon from the vine, leaving a few inches of stem attached to the fruit

Growing Winter Squash

Winter squash comes in many varieties. The flavor of winter squash is generally sweet and nutty, with a dense and creamy texture. One popular method is to roast it in the oven, either halved or cut into cubes, with a little bit of oil and seasoning. You can also steam, boil, or sauté winter squash, and it can be added to soups, stews, and curries.

Varieties of Winter Squash:

Acorn Squash | Pie Pumpkin | Butternut Squash | Delicata Squash

Storing Winter Squash

“Never wash any winter squash that you intend to store. Dry all types in the sun until the stems shrivel and turn gray; the exception is acorn squash, which doesn’t need curing. If placed in a cool, dry area with temperatures of 45° to 50°F and with 65 to 70 percent humidity, winter squash will keep for up to 5 months. Acorn squash needs a slightly cooler and moister storage area.” [RUEOG]


After harvesting, handle the melons gently to prevent bruising and damage to the skin. Avoid dropping or tossing them into containers.

If you’re not consuming the melons immediately, store them at room temperature for a few days to allow them to ripen further, especially if they were harvested slightly underripe. Once fully ripe, store them in the refrigerator to prolong their shelf life and maintain their quality.

Cooking With Winter Squash

  1. Roasted Winter Squash: Cut winter squash, such as butternut or acorn squash, into cubes or wedges. Toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and your choice of herbs or spices. Roast in the oven until the squash is tender and caramelized.
  2. Winter Squash Soup: Cook peeled and diced winter squash with onions, garlic, vegetable or chicken broth, and warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Blend the mixture until smooth for a comforting and velvety winter squash soup.
  3. Stuffed Winter Squash: Cut winter squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and fill the cavities with a mixture of cooked grains, sautéed vegetables, cheese, and herbs. Bake until the squash is tender and the filling is heated through.
  4. Winter Squash Risotto: Incorporate cooked and mashed winter squash into a creamy risotto. Sauté onions and garlic, add Arborio rice, and gradually stir in vegetable broth and white wine. Finish with grated Parmesan cheese for a rich and satisfying dish.
  5. Winter Squash Curry: Cube winter squash and simmer it in a flavorful curry sauce made with coconut milk, curry paste or powder, ginger, garlic, and other spices. Serve the curry over rice for a warming and aromatic winter squash dish.

Try These Winter Squash Recipes:

Want To Learn More?

At Backyard Eats, we’re passionate about helping our clients discover and share the magic of homegrown good. Our Harvest Guides will teach you everything you need to know to harvest, store, and cook with fresh produce right from your own backyard! Our Harvest Toolkit Directory includes a list of all our step-by-step guides. Click below to give them a try!