Butternut squash is a seasonal produce. You can use it to make delicious stir-fries, soups, and stews. Whether you're growing them yourself in your garden or buying them at the convenience store for the first time, choosing a ripe pumpkin can be difficult at times. Ripe butternut squash will be dark cream in color, feel relatively firm and heavy, and sound hollow when tapped on the outside with a knuckle.
Method 1 of 3: Picking Butternut Pumpkins at the Convenience Store
Step 1. Choose a dark beige pumpkin with a non-shiny skin
Avoid pumpkins that are light yellow or mottled with green and glossy skin. Glossy or waxy skin is a sign that the pumpkin was harvested too young.
Most pumpkins will have large, pale patches on the skin. This is the part that is sticking to the ground and is not a sign that the pumpkin is not ripe
Step 2. Don't choose butternut squash that has slits, that feels soft when pressed, or that has brown spots
It's okay if the surface of the pumpkin looks stained, but slices and tender skin will cause mold or spoilage, and these should be avoided. Also, avoid pumpkins with brown spots.
Brown spots on pumpkins are caused by frost and are a sign that the pumpkin may have an unpleasant texture and won't last long
Step 3. Make sure the stalk is still attached to the pumpkin you selected
If you see a butternut squash at the convenience store that has its stem removed, it could be a sign that the pumpkin is ripe. Look for a stem that feels firm and is dark brown in color.
Pumpkins without stems will also rot faster than those with stems
Step 4. Choose a butternut squash that feels heavy
Once you find a pumpkin whose skin is dark beige, evenly distributed, free of slices, and without blemishes, take it out and compare its weight to other pumpkins. Try to compare the average weight of pumpkins in general. If it feels relatively lighter than the others, it's probably not ripe.
Step 5. Check the hardness of the butternut squash skin before deciding to choose one
Use the skin to gently poke the surface of the pumpkin. If the nails can penetrate the skin easily, the pumpkin is not ripe enough.
Ripe butternut squash should feel firm like an unripe avocado
Step 6. Choose a butternut squash that sounds hollow when tapped
Learning the difference between a ripe and unripe pumpkin takes practice. The best way to learn this is to ask a convenience store clerk or a pumpkin farmer at the market for help.
Method 2 of 3: Harvesting Butternut Pumpkins from the Garden
Step 1. Wait until the butternut squash reaches a length of 20-30 cm
While ripe pumpkins can vary in length depending on the variety and soil conditions, most butternut squash will reach a length of 20–30 cm. The suit reaches that length and the pumpkin stops growing, meaning harvest time is approaching.
Pumpkins grown in fertile soil will last longer than those grown in nutrient-poor soil
Step 2. Observe the stalks turning brown before harvesting
Once the butternut squash is ripe, the stalks will turn from green to brown. If the stalk is still green, let the pumpkin grow on the vine longer. Apart from turning brown, the stalks will also dry out, indicating that the pumpkin is ready to be harvested.
- When you cut the butternut squash from the vines, leave the pumpkin stalks as long as possible or at least 2.5 cm.
- If the stalk is removed, the flesh of the pumpkin will be exposed and bacteria can enter and make it go bad faster.
Step 3. Notice the golden or dark cream color of the butternut squash
There is also a ripe pumpkin skin that is golden brown. In addition, choose an even color. The darker, the better.
If the pumpkin is light yellow in color, or there are green spots/lines on the skin, it means the pumpkin is not ripe
Method 3 of 3: Storing Butternut Pumpkin
Step 1. Store the butternut squash in a cool, dark place to make it last longer
Pumpkins can last 2-3 months if stored in a cool, dark place. Basements, sheds, or basements are great storage places.
The ideal temperature range for storing pumpkins is 10-16 °C
Step 2. Store the butternut squash at room temperature if you are going to cook it soon
Ripe squash can last up to about 14 days if stored at room temperature. Remove the pumpkin from its plastic wrap before storing it.
To preserve texture, do not store unsliced pumpkin in the refrigerator
Step 3. Put the butternut squash in the fridge after peeling and slicing
Once the pumpkin is peeled and sliced, the pieces will stay fresh for 2-4 days if stored in the refrigerator. Before storing fresh pumpkin pieces in the refrigerator, place them in an airtight container or freezer-specific ziplock bag, and remove any remaining air.
Label the bag or container to note how long the pumpkin is kept in the refrigerator
Step 4. Place the cooked butternut squash in the fridge or freezer to extend its shelf life
Cooked pumpkin will last for 4-5 days if stored in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, pumpkin can stay fresh for 10-12 months.