A sure sign of fall and winter is the arrival of winter squash in our grocery stores.
They bring memories of squash soup, butternut squash lasagna, roasted squash and bountiful harvests at Thanksgiving. Winter squash, while very versatile, are from the same family as summer squash. They are picked later, when their skins have hardened to a tough rind. Most of the crop in the Northern Hemisphere is harvested in September or October.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when selecting winter squash.
- Should not be shiny but have a dull finish.
- Should feel heavy for their size, and have no bruises
- Skin should be firm when pressed and the stem should be solid and dry
- Store uncut squash at room temperature for up to three months.
6 Types of Winter Squash to Try!
Acorn: Shaped like an acorn, this small squash comes in dark green, orange, and a pale yellow-brown color. The interior is yellow or orange and the skin is edible. Peeling is difficult as it has a ribbed rind. My tip: cut in half or slices, then roast or bake.
Butternut: Its sweet, nutty taste is similar to a pumpkin. The riper it gets, the more orange or butterscotch in color. This easy to peel variety (use a carrot peeler) is bell-shaped and has high doses of vitamin A and C. Use in soup or salads after roasting.
Delicata: Here is another squash where, when baked, you can eat the skin without peeling. This striped heirloom variety has a creamy texture and flavor, with an orange-yellow flesh. Delicata squash can be sautéed, baked, steamed or used as a stuffing.
Kabocha: This jade green Japanese variety has stripes and a hard, knobby-looking skin. It has a sweet, yet strong flavor, best used in soups and side dishes, or anywhere potato, pumpkin, or other squash is used.
Spaghetti: Named after spaghetti pasta, this oval squash cooks into strands or ribbons, similar to actual spaghetti pasta. The flesh is ivory to yellow to orange in color, with the orange having a higher carotene content. Spaghetti squash is good roasted or baked. Scrape out the strands and serve with a marinara sauce and shredded Parmesan cheese.
Sugar Pumpkin: Yes! Pumpkins are squash. These small pie pumpkins are a sweet treat not only for pies but also other fall baking items, such as pancakes, risottos and quick breads. Sugar pumpkins are much sweeter than the larger, traditional Halloween variety.
This Fall, broaden your squash knowledge and experiment with some new, fun squash recipes!
For more cooking tips, visit Sally's Place.