You're walking through the produce section of the grocery store and come across this awkward, pale orange looking squash. You pick it up, give it a quick look, and shrug your shoulders. It's not like picking out a banana that you can tell is ripe — all of these butternut squashes look the same. So how do you tell if a butternut squash is ripe? We're here to help.


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Photo by Julia Maguire

We start to notice butternut squash recipes pop up during fall. Recipes such as butternut squash risotto, butternut squash soup, and maple roasted butternut squash are meals we get excited about making. Some grocery stores carry butternut squash year-round, but peak season is summer through late fall. So now that we know when to buy the awkward looking squash, how do we pick it out at the grocery store?

Notice the Color

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Becky Hughes

A ripe butternut squash should be a dark shade of beige. Its skin should have a matte look. If it's shiny, put it down. It's not ripe yet. Notice any patches of green? Not ripe yet. It's okay if it has blemishes — just make sure there's no cuts on the squash.

Feel the Squash

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Photo by Julia Maguire

Butternut squash should feel hard and heavy. It's going to feel like an unripe avocado. It's stem should be intact because that will keep it fresh for longer. Tap the butternut squash with your knuckles and if it sounds hollow, it's ripe. Knock, knock. 

Ripe butternut squash will be perfect for making sweet, creamy recipes. An unripe butternut quash will be bland and tasteless. Butternut squash varies in price according to region, but Trader Joe's sells them for $1.99 in its Texas, Midwest, Southeast, and East Coast stores. Now that you know how to pick them, never make the mistake of picking an unripe butternut squash ever again.