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Winter Squash: Peak Flavor Chart



Storing Winter Squash for Peak Flavor & Eating Quality
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, CSAs, or the farmstand, 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.


Months After Maturity
    Winter Squash Type
1 Mo  2 Mo  3 Mo  4 Mo  5 Mo  6 Mo 
» DELICATA       2.5      
» SWEET DUMPLING            
Red-skinned & 'Mini' 
» SPAGHETTI             
» BUTTERCUP             
» HUBBARD             
» BUTTERNUT             
key  KEY  
  Curing Period
  Optimal Eating Period

Many winter squash fruits appear to be mature before they are actually ready to harvest, and some require additional 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.

Delicata, Dumpling & Acorn fruits will have a dark-orange "ground spot" when mature. Fruits can be consumed at harvest, and eating quality is best within 2–3 months of harvest.
Red-skinned & "mini" Hubbards & Kabochas (such as Sunshine, Red Kuri, and Shokichi types) can be consumed at harvest, and will store 2–3 months. Dry, corky stems are a good indication of fruit maturity.
Spaghetti Squash can be consumed at harvest and will store about 3 months.
Buttercup & Green or Gray Kabocha fruits are best after 1–2 months of storage, but will also store 4–6 months. Dry, corky stems area good indication of fruit maturity.
Hubbard & Butternut fruits are best after 1–2 months of storage, and will keep 4–6 months. Butterscotch PMR is an exception — it can be consumed at harvest, and is best within 3 months of harvest.

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