Spaghetti squash is pale ivory or yellow, about 23 cm (9 inches) long and 13 cm (5 inches) thick. Its flesh comes apart in strands that look like spaghetti. Many recipes will have you cook it, “strand it”, then use the strands along with other ingredients in a recipe.
Though it is a Winter Squash, it is harvested and eaten before fully mature.
The squash is ready to harvest when the skin turns golden or dark yellow, about 70 to 115 days from seed, depending on where they are grown. The shell of the squash should be hard so that you can’t press a fingernail into it, and the stem should be shrivelled and brown.
Ripeness of spaghetti squash
If you are forced to pick a spaghetti squash while still green because the growing season has ended, you can let it finish ripening indoors.
For this to work, the squash should already be at a certain level of maturity. It feel and sound solid when you knock on it. If it’s less mature, it may not ripen further. Harvest them leaving a few cm (inches) of stem on. Wash the squash to wash away any mould spores that could cause it to rot, and place in a sunny location indoors. It’s the sun that will ripen the squash, so the location must be sunny. Turn as needed to keep exposing the green parts to the sun. When the skin turns a golden yellow, then it has finished ripening.
To prep a spaghetti squash for cooking, wash the outside, cut it in half lengthwise and scoop / scrape out all the seeds.
Then cook it in some fashion:
- To bake, place cut side down in a baking dish, and bake for 45 minutes at 190 C (375 F);
- To microwave, place in a covered dish with a ½ cm (¼ inch) of water and microwave for 12 -14 minutes;
- To pressure cook, place the two halves in the pot, add 250 ml (1 cup / 8 oz) of water and pressure cook on high for 14 minutes. If your squash is too large for your pressure cooker, you may need to do it in two batches.
When done, let cool a bit for easier handling, then flip over and use a fork to pull out the flesh in strands. If you have to really dig to get the strands out, it wasn’t cooked enough first. Discard the rind.
Some cooks swear by cooking spaghetti squash in a pressure cooker rather than a microwave, saying it comes out softer and better tasting.
A spaghetti squash that is 12 ½ cm tall by 23 cm long (5 x 7 inches) will weigh about 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds.) When seeded, cooked and scraped, it will yield about 750 g of flesh (4 cups.)
Store uncut in a cool, dark place for up to 4 months. If cut and uncooked, store wrapped in refrigerator for up to 2 days.
To freeze, prepare it as for cooking by washing, cutting in half and seeding, then cook by one of the above methods. Then strand it, pack into freezer bags and freeze. If you freeze it in rigid plastic containers, leave 2 cm (½ inch) headspace.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation advises that spaghetti squash is unsafe for home canning owing to density issues that would affect heat penetration. Winter squashes need to be home-canned in cubes to allow heat to evenly move throughout the jar: spaghetti squash compacts, preventing even heat penetration and thus preventing even sterilization of potential botulism spores. “DO NOT CAN spaghetti squash. Its flesh does not stay cubed during processing.” Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D., and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D. Preserving Food: Canning Vegetables. University of Georgia Extension Service. April 2014.
|↑1||Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D., and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D. Preserving Food: Canning Vegetables. University of Georgia Extension Service. April 2014.|