Winter squash is a must to fulfill a true fall pallet of flavor and texture. Planted as soon as the last danger of frost have passed, and cured for two-three weeks, winter squash can last for months after the growing season. This makes it a great source of low calorie, essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and carbohydrates throughout the winter and holiday season.
Harvest winter squash when the skin of the squash cannot be easily punctured by your fingernail. This ensures that the squash has fully developed, allowing for full seed growing potential and maximum flavor.
Here are a few types of winter squash to try this year:
Acorn squash is a great all around squash used for many, many different recipes. Whether you roast it, bake it, mash it, fry it, sauté it, steam it, or stuff it, you will enjoy a soft, sweet and rewarding experience. Full grown acorn squash are 12 ounces to 2 pounds. Acorn squash turn dark green with an occasional yellow splotch with a distinct acorn like shape.
Buttercup squash is a creamy, smooth, and rich winter squash. The darker the flesh, the more vitamins are loaded in the squash. This squash can tend to be a little dryer than others. So, most people prefer to steam buttercup squash. Also try baking this squash with chicken broth and whatever spices you fancy. Fully developed buttercup squash is 3 to 5 pounds of dark green rind with silvery strands of color.
Butternut squash is one of the most popular winter squashes due to its’ sweet flavor, nice size, and smooth texture. The flesh is not very fibrous making it the ideal squash for mashing, pureeing, or blending into a fine soup. Fully developed butternut squash will be long, pear shaped and tan that will range somewhere between 2 to 3 pounds per squash.
Delicata squash is one of the smallest types of winter squash. The size is quickly made up for by its’ rich nutty corn like flavor. Delicatas will be just under a pound per squash and will be striped with greens, yellows, and oranges when complete. Delicata squash have much thinner rinds than most other squash. The thin skin makes this squash more susceptible to degradation and will not last as long as others. Eat your delicata squash up quick by slicing in thin rounds and roasting it with butter, oil, and your favorite spices.
Last but not least the giant Hubbard squash. These monsters can reach up to 50 pounds per squash! They have a green-blue-gray color and thick skins. Properly stored, Hubbard squash can last up to 5 months after being harvested and cured. Hubbard squash has a nice, smooth, pumpkinny flavor that will leave you wanting more and more. Good thing you have so much! Hubbard squash is sometimes sold sliced and de-seeded for easier handling for the chef.
Germinating, growing, caring for, harvesting, cooking, and ultimately eating squash is a well-rounded rewarding experience. We love all things squash! See a variety you love but is not listed? Have a tasty recipe for squash? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think about this wonderful plant!
Photos: Elizabeth Adan
Jake Frazier is an outdoor enthusiast and the owner of Residential Ecology, a sustainable ecological resource management company. He uses existing natural systems to improve the quality of life for both humans and the Earth. Jake is interested in permaculture, living systems and exploring. Connect with him on LinkedIn.