Food – Squash, Did you Know?

Did you know that every part of the squash plant can be eaten, including the leaves and tender shoots?

In North America, squash is loosely grouped into summer squash or winter squash, depending on whether they are harvested as immature fruit (summer squash) or mature fruit (autumn squash or winter squash).

The term summer and winter for squash are only based on current usage, not on actuality. Summer types are on the market all winter; and winter types are on the markets in the late summer and fall, as well as winter. Thus, the terms summer and winter are deceptive and confusing. This terminology was never meant to confuse—it just dates back to a time when the seasons were more crucial to man’s survival than they are now. “Good keepers” became known as winter vegetables if they would “keep” until December.

Winter squash comes in shapes round and elongated, scalloped and pear-shaped with flesh that ranges from golden-yellow to brilliant orange. Most winter squashes are vine-type plants whose fruits are harvested when fully mature. They take longer to mature than summer squash (three months or more) and are best harvested once the cool weather of fall sets in. They can be stored for months in a cool basement, hence the name winter squash.

No two look exactly alike! The different varieties of winter squash may be substituted for each other in your many squash recipes. Winter squash are also packed with antioxidants and vitamins (and have no fats), and can be prepared sweet or savory. Be creative and try different types of squash!

Types of Squash

Acorn, Banana, Buttercup, Carnival, Delicata, Gold Nugget, Hubbard, Kabocha, Spaghetti and Turban Squash are available year round. Ambercup Squash is available June to November. Autumn Cup and Fairytale Pumpkin Squash are available September through December. Sweet Dumpling Squash is available throughout the fall. Other well-known types of squash include the pumpkin and zucchini.

Butternut squash, featured in this month’s recipe, is easily found in supermarkets. Beige colored and shaped like a vase or a bell, this is a more watery squash and tastes somewhat similar to sweet potatoes. It has a bulbous end and pale, creamy skin, with a choice, fine-textured, deep-orange flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor. Some people say it is like butterscotch. It weighs from 2 to 5 pounds. The more orange the color, the riper, drier, and sweeter the squash. It is available year-round; peak season lasts from early fall through winter.

Squash Equivalents

  • 1/3 to 1/2 pound raw unpeeled squash = 1 serving
  • 1 pound peeled squash = 1 cup cooked, mashed
  • 2-1/2 pounds whole squash = 2-3/4 to 3 cups pureed
  • 1 pound trimmed squash = 2 cups cooked pieces
  • 1 pound squash = 2 to 3 servings
  • 12 ounces frozen squash = 1-1/2 cups
  • 1 medium-size (15 to 20 pounds) pumpkin = 5 to 7 quarts of cooked pumpkin