There's no good reason not to eat butternut squash for breakfast this fall—even if you're not totally sure how to tell if a squash it ripe or not. This autumn vegetable is incredibly versatile, whether you fry it up into a delicious butternut squash hash or roast it in the oven to make a butternut squash filling for a vegan-friendly quesadilla. But if you want to make the most of this produce, you should learn how to tell if squash is ripe. And the good news is that you don't even have to cut into a butternut squash to tell if it's ready to eat or not.

You can tell if your butternut squash is ripe by the color and texture of the outer rind. If there are any green spots, it's definitely not ready to cook. The skin should be hard, according to the Farmer's Almanac, not at all glossy, and en even color. You can also tell if a butternut squash, or any other winter squash, is ready to cook by pressing your fingernail through the flesh. "If you have to work at it, the squash is ripe; if it’s very easy to pierce, the squash is immature," they write.

Once your winter squash is ripe, you have a while before you have to use it. The folks at the Farmer's Almanac claim that squashes like butternut can last through most of the winter, especially if you store them in a cool, dark place like a pantry or under the bed, "if you have a cool bedroom," kept about 50° to 65°F. Just remember that whole vegetables will last longer in your pantry than those you've chopped up and stored in your fridge, so if you want to make sure your squash lasts as long as possible, don't cut it up until you're ready to cook with it. (That way, you also won't accidentally mistake your cubes of butternut squash for cubes of cheese.)

But when there are so many wonderful ways to eat winter squash like butternut squash, we wouldn't blame you if your veggies didn't make it through the week.