- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2003

PORTLAND, Ore. - Anne Cuggino, chef of the Veritable Quandary restaurant, offers some tips about making the most of squashes and

pumpkins year-round.

Summer squash

Harvesting tips: If you have ever gone out of town for a few days when your squash have been fruiting, you know how quickly they can mature. Within days, a 4-inch-long squash can turn into a 2-foot long monster. With this in mind, it is important to catch the squash when they are still young and immature. The rinds should still be soft at the time of harvest.

Storage tips: Summer squash does not store as well as some of the other squashes and should be eaten relatively soon after harvest. The best storage environment is at 45 to 60 degrees in a well ventilated area with 50 to 70 percent humidity.

Winter squash

Harvesting tips: Unlike summer squash, winter squash should be harvested when the fruit is fully mature and the rinds are hard. We like to use the “thumbnail test.” Take your thumbnail and puncture the fruit. If it is very easy to puncture, then the squash is not ready. If there is resistance, then it is ready to harvest.

Cut the vine about 1 inch from the fruit when the vine starts to dry. Allow the fruits to air-cure in the field for 7 to 10 days, making sure that the fruits are protected from heavy rains and frosts.

Storage Tips: To avoid rot during storage, wipe the fruits with a solution of water and bleach at a 10 to 1 ratio. Store at 45 to 60 degrees in an area with good airflow and 50 to 70 percent humidity.

Pumpkins and gourds

Harvesting tips: Pumpkins can be harvested after their rinds are hard and their skins have turned orange. Prolonged temperatures in the field of 50 F or less can result in chilling damage. When harvesting pumpkins, make sure to leave at least 3 to 4 inches of the vine attached to the fruit. This will allow for better storage ability.

Gourds should be allowed to mature on the vine for as long as possible keeping in mind that they will also succumb to chilling damage. One to two weeks of temperatures below 50 degrees is enough to damage the plants. To prevent your gourds from rotting, wipe the fruits with a solution of water and bleach at a 10 to 1 ratio.

Storage tips: Both pumpkins and gourds should be stored at 55 to 70 degrees and at 70 percent relative humidity. When drying gourds, it is best to store them in a warm, dry location and make sure they are not touching each other.

Rotate pumpkins that are being stored so that they do not flatten. Remember that some pumpkins get sweeter as they sit; the sugars need time to develop, so a fresh pumpkin isn’t always the sweetest.


Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide