The Q&A Archives: Watery Butternut Squash

Question: Our butternut squash grew into gigantic squash. Naturally we were very pleased with the result until we tasted them. They were watery and very stringy. We left them on the vine until the vines died but not until the first frost. Were these just a bad variety or did we do something wrong?

Answer: A big problem with winter squash is that gardeners have difficulty in determining the best time to harvest them. Butternuts are ready in 85-105 days depending on variety, but should be left on the vine until the skin is hardened. Most often, gardeners allow them to stay until frost threatens. They should then be allowed to "cure" for another week or 10 days in the sun. Cover the fruit if frost threatens. This curing sweetens the flesh and toughens the skin for storage. When picked immature they are usually watery and poor in flavor. Flavor is also better after some cold weather, but remember they are not frost-hardy. Butternut should have lost all its green color and turned a distinct tan before being harvested and cured.

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