Once your winter squash have fully matured, cut the squash from the plant, leaving at least 3 inches of stem.
The stem is the fruit’s fail-safe seal against rot and disease, so avoid lifting it by the stem and instead hold it from the bottom.
Despite their burly appearance, winter squash actually require a little babying to keep them from spoiling. Treat them gently while their skins continue to toughen up and the sun heals any cuts or cracks that could lead to rotting later.
Squash may develop ground stains on their skin, which indicate where they laid on the ground while growing. These superficial spots are merely discolorations and have no effect on the flesh underneath.
Once you’ve harvested all your squash, lay them out in the sun in a warm, well-ventilated area (around 80°F to 85°F is ideal).