How to Choose a Ripe Winter Squash

Dan Field Crops, Specialty Crops, This Land of Ours, Vegetables

How to choose a ripe winter squash.  That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.


Choosing a ripe winter squash is a bit hard to do if you’ve never done it before. The problem is squash doesn’t get brown spots or soften very easily like apples, pears, and bananas do. But, its color does start to change color as it ripens.

Look for a squash that has a matte, soft finish. Butternut, for example, should have no signs of green, while acorn should be mostly green with little to no orange. Once acorn squash turns orange, it’s past its prime and won’t taste the best.

Also, pay attention to the stem. If a squash is past its prime, the stem will pop off easily. Old squash may even harbor mold on the stem if you look carefully enough.


Feel how hard the shell is on your squash. It should be very firm, giving no room for pressure at all. Make sure its heavy and tap on it. A ripe squash will sound hollow on the inside. An unripe squash or spoiled squash will not.

If you pick your squash fresh off a farm, ask the farmer when it was picked. Squash takes 80-100 days to reach its ripeness, which is one reason it can sit on grocery store shelves and in your pantry so long without going bad.

And lastly, open it. If the seeds look slimy or are an off-color, the squash has spoiled.

Listen to Cathy Isom’s This Land of Ours program here.

How to Choose a Ripe Winter Squash