Winter Squash: Peak Flavor Chart

Winter Squash Curing & Storage Chart

How Long to Cure & How Long to Store

Timing for Different Types for Peak Flavor & Eating Quality
Sweet Dumplings are best within the first 2-3 months after harvest.
Dainty, teacup-shaped 'Sweet Dumplings' and other Delicata types are best within the first 3 months post harvest.
For those eager to enjoy the first of the fall squash harvest, a simple rule of thumb is to consume the smallest squashes first.

More Tips on Timing

Different types and varieties of winter squash vary as to how long they take to cure after harvesting, how long before they achieve peak eating quality, and how long before that quality declines.

Whether you grow winter squash for your own consumption or to sell at markets, at the farmstand, or to place in your CSA boxes, you will want to know when your squash and edible pumpkins are at their best.

The chart below is designed to serve as a general guide to the storage potential of different types of winter squash.

Chart for Different Types of Winter Squash
key Click for KEY    MONTHS AFTER MATURITY/HARVEST
TYPE   1 Mo   2 Mo   3 Mo   4 Mo   5 Mo   6 Mo  
ACORN              
SPAGHETTI              
DELICATA              
SWEET DUMPLING              
Some red-skinned HUBBARDS ('Red Kuri')              
Some SPECIALTY PUMPKINS ('Red October')              
'Mini' KABOCHA ('Shokichi Green', 'Shokichi Shiro', 'Sunshine')              
BUTTERCUP            
HUBBARD            
Gray & Green KABOCHA: 'Cha Cha'; 'Black Forest'            
Longest-storing KABOCHA: 'Winter Sweet'            
BUTTERNUT            
 
key    KEY Curing Period Optimal Eating Period
 
Timing Tips by Type • When to Eat Which

Many winter squash fruits appear to be mature before they are actually ready to harvest, and some require time in storage after harvest for best eating quality. For the best-quality squash, wait to harvest all types until they are mature — at least 50–55 days after the fruit has set — and cure before storing and eating.

As noted above, a good rule of thumb is to consume small-fruited types first, but read on for additional type-specific tips.

Acorn

The fruits of acorn types will have a dark-orange "ground spot" when mature. Fruits can be consumed at harvest, and eating quality is best within 2½ months of harvest.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash, too, can be consumed right away after harvest, and will store only about 2½ months.

Delicata & Dumpling

The fruits of these types, like acorn squash, often have a dark-orange "ground spot" when mature. Fruits can be consumed at harvest, and eating quality is best within 3 months of harvest.

Some Red-skinned Hubbards, Specialty Pumpkins & 'mini' Kabocha

Varieties such as 'Sunshine' and 'Red Kuri' and Shokichi types can be consumed at harvest, and will store up to 4 months. Dry, corky stems are a good indication of fruit maturity.

Buttercup & Larger, Green or Gray Kabocha

Fruits are best after 1–1½ months of storage, but will also store 4–6 months. Dry, corky stems are a good indication of fruit maturity.

Hubbard & Butternut

Fruits are best after 1–2 months of storage, and will keep 4–6 months. (Because of its smaller size, 'Butterscotch PMR' is an exception; it can be consumed at harvest, and is best within 3 months of harvest.)