Pumpkins and Squashes are one of the more satisfying vegetable types to grow, mainly because you really see a difference in them as they grow from tiny little nippers to huge big pumpkins (or other squash!) They will be beginning to ripen this month, and it’s great fun being able to harvest them as Halloween approaches. That said, we want to encourage you not to pick them too soon as you want to avoid cooking and eating them before they are fully ripe. It won’t harm you, but it won’t taste nearly as good.
Giving pumpkins and squashes a little time to fully ripen means they are able to develop that deep, sweet flavour and a better texture too. Cook them before they’re ready and you might find they go a bit gloopy when they’re cooked, and it’s not quite so tasty. Here are our top tips:
- Cut off any leaves that are blocking the pupmkins/squashes from direct sunlight as this’ll help them to ripen.
- Wait for them to completely change colour (e.g. a Jack O’Lantern turns completely orange, and a butternut has that peachy colouring all over)
- Once they’ve changed colour, leave them on the vine for another 3-5 days so that the flesh inside can ripen too.
- When you think they’re ready to harvest, start with one and cut a small slice off at the stalk to see if the flesh is orange all the way through before picking the others. If it’s still green around the skin then they need to ripen a little more.
- If you do harvest one that hasn’t fully ripened, don’t panic – you can leave it on a sunny windowsill for a few days and it’ll keep ripening.
- Once ripe and harvested be sure to store them in a cool, dark place so that they don’t over ripen.