Acorn squash is a popular winter squash known for its acorn-like shape and dark green and bright orange skin.
Typically, acorn squash is mostly dark green with one or two small patches of bright orange skin.
However, it’s possible for acorn squash to turn completely orange, especially if stored for longer periods of time.
If you have some acorn squash that has turned orange, you may be wondering if it is still safe to eat. Let’s review!
Why did my acorn squash turn orange?
Acorn squash skin turns from dark green to orange as it ripens.
When acorn squash is ready to eat, its skin will be mostly dark green with a small patch of orange on the side or bottom of the vegetable.
Because it continues to ripen after harvest, you may notice that acorn squash turns orange when stored for more than a month or two (1).
When acorn squash turns completely orange, this is often a sign that it is overripe.
However, keep in mind that some varieties, such as gold acorn squash, are naturally completely orange when ripe (2).
If an acorn squash was already completely orange when you bought it from the grocery store, then it might be one of these varieties.
- Acorn squash turns orange when it is overripe.
Is orange acorn squash still good?
Orange acorn squash is often overripe and tends to be dry, stringy, and bland. However, it is technically still good to eat as long as it isn’t showing any signs of rotting.
You can check to see if an acorn squash has begun to rot by examining the skin, flesh, and seeds.
First, press on the skin to feel for soft spots — these are usually a sign that bacteria have begun breaking down the squash.
Next, slice the acorn squash down the middle and inspect the inside. You’ll know it has gone bad if the flesh and/or seeds are moldy, slimy, or gray. You may also notice an unpleasant odor.
If only a portion of the squash appears to be rotting, you can cut that section out and use the rest. Just make sure to use it right away.
Eating acorn squash that has gone bad probably won’t make you sick, but it definitely won’t taste great (3).
- Orange acorn squash is edible but may be dry, bland, and stringy.
Should I still eat orange acorn squash?
I mean… just because you could doesn’t mean you should.
Perfectly ripe acorn squash (with dark green skin) is deliciously tender and moist with a nutty, slightly sweet flavor, so using an overripe orange acorn squash instead might lead to a sub-par result.
So if your acorn squash has become overripe, it may be better to toss it in the compost bin rather than use it in your recipe.
- Overripe acorn squash won’t taste as good, so you probably don’t want to cook with it.
How can I prevent my acorn squash from turning orange?
No matter how you store your squash, it will eventually turn orange with time. But cool temperatures, darkness, and low-moisture conditions can slow this process.
To prevent acorn squash from turning orange too quickly, store it in a cool, dark, dry place, like inside a closed pantry or root cellar.
It’s generally best to consume acorn squash within a month or so of purchase for the best flavor and texture.
Also, the fresher the acorn squash is when you get it, the longer you have before it will turn orange. So look for squash that is dark green and firm with just a small spot of orange when you purchase it.
- Store your squash in a cool, dark, dry place to stop it from turning orange too quickly.
If your acorn squash has turned orange, it is probably overripe and may be dry, stringy, and bland when cooked.
While it may not taste the best, orange acorn squash is technically still good to eat as long as it doesn’t show any signs of rotting.
Be sure to inspect the squash carefully before consuming it. If you notice any soft spots, mold, or a strange smell, then it’s best to throw the squash away.
To keep your acorn squash from becoming overripe too quickly, store it properly in a cool, dark, dry place.
Still not sure if your acorn squash is good? Check out these 6 signs that your acorn squash has gone bad.
Amy Richter is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Missouri. She is an experienced nutrition writer and medical advisor for Healthline and Medical News Today. Amy is passionate about all things food-related and enjoys translating complex science into easy-to-understand articles.