Spaghetti Squash is a novelty, lemon yellow-colored winter squash, whose insides resemble the Italian pasta after which it is named.
Spaghetti Squash takes approximately 10-14 weeks to form, from sowing time to harvesting. Read on to determine how you know it’s ready to harvest, how to cook it and how to store it.
What are the signs of my Spaghetti Squash being ripe?
When this squash is ripe, look at the color, the size and do the nail test!
- Color: The color changes from green to yellow as the squash ripens. Visually the ripe fruit should be a bright, lemon yellow, with an elongated, rounded shape while the surface of the squash should feel firm to the touch.
- Size: The fruit starts as a flower, and then grows in an elongated zucchini shape, which grows rounder. It should be at least 3 inches wide and perhaps 6-9 inches long, but see below for picking the first fruits smaller to encourage growth.
- Try the thumbnail test! If you gently press a nail into the top of the fruit where it attaches to the stem, and it feels soft, then leave the fruit to develop for another week or so. If it feels hard, then it is probably ripe if it lemon yellow and has passed the size criteria.
What month does Spaghetti Squash ripen?
- If you plant in late April indoors, your first fruits will start to arrive in July so you should be able to pick the first fruit by late July.
- If this is the first squash plant you have grown, prepare to be amazed at how long the stem can grow! These spreading plants produce gorgeous orangey flowers, which are pollinated and turn into fruit. The plant continues to grow, its stem extending and its tendrils will attach to other plants close by e.g. beans or sunflowers.
- Fruits arrive after flowers have been pollinated and the squash continues to swell from July to October. It is best to pick the first one or two fruits even though they do not reach full size; then pick regularly, to encourage further fruit production.
- Thereafter, the plant will continue to bloom and produce fruit until the days get shorter, and the light decreases in the fall. The traditional time to cut all fruits from this plant family is before the first frosts.
How do you cut the fruit?
- Usually, this squash is heavy and it tends to lie on the ground as the foliage spreads wilder in all directions. If it is growing supported by a strong stem which it has climbed, carefully support the heavy squash and cut it at the stem, after you check if it is ripe.
- You can also place fruiting squashes on flat stones to mature. If your squash is lying flat on a stone or the soil, then support it with your hand so as not to strain the rest of the plant. Then cut close to the growing stem and move the stone to support another growing squash.
- You can use it immediately or allow the fruit to dry and mature on a sunny window sill. Then store these dried squashes indoors in a cool place until you need them. See how long you can store them in Tips below.
How do you know when it’s ripe to pick?
If you put your thumbnail into the surface close to the stalk, and it goes in easily, now is the time to pick. You need to keep cutting summer courgettes but winter squash are different.
Allow the fruit to grow as large as possible and only connecting the squash to the vine. Remove as the frost of fall approaches. Cut the squash from the vine stem. Then store them in a cool, dry dark area where they can remain until Christmas.
Can Spaghetti Squash ripen off the vine?
Yes, like all squashes it can be picked and stored. However, if the frosts still haven’t arrived it is probably better to allow the fruit to continue to grow on the plant, as the size and flavor will continue to improve.
It is only the very last fruit you should pick to avoid leaving it on the plant after the chill of fall has arrived. However, the squash will continue to ripen indoors, if you place it on a sunny windowsill, then move it when it is ripe and cook or store it.
Can Spaghetti Squash ripen if you harvest it early?
It depends. The first fruits of Spaghetti Squash should definitely be picked early but this is to encourage the plant to keep fruiting.
These first fruits will probably be smaller than the fruit you pick at the end of the season, because you left those to mature until the last possible moment. So, a squash you pick early will ripen if you harvest early but it will probably not gain the full size of a matured fruit.
Why does my Spaghetti Squash look like a watermelon?
The skin of both fruits initially have that mottled, green pattern and color but the fruit of watermelons look green and round as they ripen, they change color to a darker green.
Spaghetti squash are not from the same family – but they do change from this green color to yellow as they ripen. There is a variety of seed which can produce fruit that resemble watermelon but the taste of both fruits is completely different. Cut both open and check!
How do you store Spaghetti Squash?
You can store whole fruit in a darkened area until about Christmas but if they haven’t been cooked by then, they will start to go off. Try to use before the festive season as they tend to go moldy if left much longer!
How do you cook Spaghetti Squash?
- Boil this lemon squash for 25 minutes, and then cut it in half.
- First, remove the seeds – these can be dried and stored too like sunflower seeds.
- Next, strip the “spaghetti” strands from the flesh with a spoon or fork, and then serve these with your usual spaghetti dishes.
- There are lots of recipes for this unusual squash online too.
Can you eat the flesh of Spaghetti Squash as well as the strands?
The flesh of Spaghetti Squash uncooked looks like any other squash or pumpkin. Because it is a winter squash, the skin is tougher but it is edible. However, the inside of this squash falls apart when it is cooked, giving the plant its name. There may be a tiny amount of flesh and skin left, with which you can make soup or add to stews.
Can I freeze Spaghetti Squash?
Because the cooked flesh falls apart so easily, these are difficult squashes to freeze. For me, the strands are best eaten fresh straight after cooking. You can freeze them but you may be disappointed with the results if you compare them to the fresh squash.
Some cooks recommend saving the whole inside of the squash in a polythene bag for freezing, and when this defrosts just pot the contents into a bowl and microwave it.
When watering Spaghetti Squash, try to avoid getting water on the leaves. They really don’t like it. Instead, ensure that your plant is placed in a hollow which you dig in the soil. Then when you water this hollow, you can easily avoid the leaves.
Water the plant thoroughly to encourage fruiting, particularly in a dry period. If your watering is inconsistent in dry weather, you may notice a type of mold forming on the leaves. Just cut these leaves off and feed the plant every 2 weeks to encourage fruit to grow.
Storage: Spaghetti Squash are known as a winter squash, because they usually store well. Try to cook them before Christmas in any case; otherwise, mold tends to form on the fruit.