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Acorn Squash: From Garden to Table

Growing and harvesting your own acorn squash can be a rewarding fall favorite.

Acorn Squash by kim daniels via unsplash
Photo by Kim Daniels via unsplash

Will acorn squash be on your table this fall? Did you grow acorn squash in your garden this year? I hope the answer to both is yes! Acorn squash is a favorite of many gardeners. It is especially easy to grow and is a stunning side dish when cool autumn nights have you craving warm comfort foods.

How do you grow acorn squash?

Acorn squash is one of the easiest crops to grow. It can take up a large amount of space though depending on the variety. There are two different types of acorn squash: bush and vining. We are growing Heirloom Table Queen, which is a vining plant. This type of acorn squash is ideal for planting in a garden with a lot of room as each plant should be spaced three feet (1m) apart. Bush Table Queen is a great option for container gardening.

Acorn squash has delicate roots so directly sow it so as not to disturb them. They need full sun and an average of 85 days of growing time to harvest. If planting in the garden, create little hills about a foot wide (30 cm) and 3 inches high (7 cm). Plant two seeds in each one and water thoroughly. Thin to one plant per hill after they reach two inches (5 cm) tall. If you choose to plant acorn squash in a container, make sure to use a 24 inch (0.5 m) or larger pot. Start with two to three seeds and then thin to one plant when they are two inches (5 cm) tall. Add a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 once blooms develop. Make sure these heavy feeders receive an inch of water per week. That’s it: plant, fertilize and water. Then sit back and watch these beauties grow.

When do you harvest acorn squash?

You’ve waited so long to harvest your beautiful green acorn squash; don’t miss the perfect harvest window. How do you know when acorn squash is ready? Hopefully you either saved the seed packet or made a note about which variety you planted. On average it takes 85 days to grow, but the range is 70-100 days. You’ll want to narrow that window down. There are plenty of signs that the acorn squash is ready if you’ve forgotten. Look at the part of the squash that is touching the ground. It should be a deep orange color. Press your finger nail gently into the skin. If it’s easy to puncture, then it is not ready. If it is difficult to puncture; it is ready. If all the signs are there, then use a knife or shears to cut the acorn squash, leaving an inch of the vine attached.

green acorn squash
Kimber acorn squash
How do you store acorn squash?

You can store acorn squash in a cool, dry, dark place such as a basement for two to three months. This is a great option if you have a large harvest and want to enjoy the fruits of your labor throughout the fall and winter. If you would like to eat the acorn squash sooner, you can simply store it on your kitchen counter for 10 to 14 days. Do not put it in the refrigerator. You can also cook and store the acorn squash in the freezer for six months.

How do you cook acorn squash?

The most popular way to cook acorn squash is in the oven. It can be roasted, broiled, baked, fried or steamed though. My favorite way to cook acorn squash is pretty straight forward, in the oven with butter and brown sugar. Here’s the quick recipe:

  1. Move the oven rack to the bottom third of the oven & then preheat the oven to 350° (177°C).
  2. Cut an acorn squash in half from top to bottom.
  3. Scoop out the seeds and stringy parts.
  4. Place acorn squash flesh side up in a baking pan.
  5. Top with softened butter and brown sugar.
  6. Bake for one hour.

Tips:

  • Acorn squash has a very tough skin, which makes it hard to cut. Poke a few holes in it with the point of a sharp knife. Then heat in the microwave on high for three minutes. Now it will be much easier to cut.
  • Save the seeds you scoop out to roast, just like pumpkin seeds.
  • To prevent the acorn squash from rolling around on the baking sheet, slice off a small part of the skin so that it will sit flat.
Acorn Squash ready to roast
Did you grow and harvest acorn squash this year? Share some of your favorite recipes below.

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