Also called squaghetti, Manchurian squash, vegetable spaghetti and spaghetti gourd, spaghetti squash (Cucurbita pepo) is named for its flesh, which resembles spaghetti when mature fruits are cooked whole. You can tell when your spaghetti squash are ready for harvest by a change in the color and the texture of their skin. Spaghetti squash is an annual plant, and its fruit matures in fall. One spaghetti squash plant produces three to five fruits.
About 70 to 80 days after you sow spaghetti squash seeds, the fruits are ready for harvest. Mature fruits weigh about 2 pounds, and are about 10 inches long and 5 inches in diameter. If you're unsure whether the squash is ripe, leave it on the plant. Immature spaghetti squash fruits don't last long in storage. But don't leave fruits on spaghetti squash plants if frost is in the forecast. Freezing temperatures damage the fruit.
As spaghetti squash matures, its skin turns golden yellow. Sugars develop in ripening spaghetti squash flesh, and the skin color also changes. Unripe fruits are light yellow or ivory white, depending on the variety.
The skin of mature spaghetti squash fruit is tough. As the season progresses, spaghetti squash fruit skin becomes harder and drier. To test whether a fruit is ready for harvest, try to pierce its skin with your thumbnail. Your nail won't leave a dent on a mature fruit.
When you harvest spaghetti squash, leave a portion of stem attached to help the fruit store well. Prune the stems 1 inch from the fruits. Wipe dirt from the squash with a clean, damp cloth.
Wipe pruning shear blades with a cloth that was soaked in rubbing alcohol, both before and after harvesting spaghetti squash fruits.
Spaghetti squash stores best in a cool, dry place.
- Put the harvested fruits in an area that's 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, for up to two weeks to cure the skins.
- Store the fruits at 55 degrees Fahrenheit in a cellar, shed or other dry place.
- Check the fruits every one or two weeks for signs of decay, and remove any that deteriorate. You can store spaghetti squash for up to three or four months.