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Types of Winter Squash

September 18, 2011
Types of winter squash – The most popular winter squash varieties available

Winter squash come in many shapes and colors. 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 not fats), and can be prepared sweet or savory. Be creative and try different types of winter squash!
  photo of acorn squash Acorn Squash Easily found in supermarkets. As its name suggests, this winter squash is small and round shaped like an acorn. One of my favorite baking squashes, it’s easy to slice into halves and fill with butter. A small acorn squash weighs from 1 to 3 pounds, and has sweet, slightly fibrous flesh. Its distinct ribs run the length of its hard, blackish-green or golden-yellow skin. In addition to the dark green acorn, there are now golden and multi-colored varieties. Available year round
  photo of Ambercup squash Ambercup Squash A relative of the buttercup squash that resembles a small pumpkin with orange skin. Bright orange flesh has a dry sweet taste. Peel it, cube the flesh, roast it, and serve like cut-up sweet potatoes. Has an extraordinarily long storage life.Available June to November.
  photo of Autumn Cup squash Autumn Cup Squash A hybrid semi-bush Buttercup/kabocha type dark green squash. Rich flavored flesh and high yields. Fruit size 6 inches with a weight of about 2 to 3 pounds. Flesh is yellow/orange meat that is stringless, dry, and sweet. Available September through December.
  photo of banana squash Banana Squash In shape and skin color, this winter squash is reminiscent of a banana. It grows up to two feet in length and about six inches in diameter. Its bright orange, finely-textured flesh is sweet. Banana squash is often available cut into smaller pieces. Available year-round – peak season lasts summer through early fall.
  photo of butternut squash
Butternut
Squash 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 oranger the color, the riper, drier, and sweeter the squash.  Butternut is a common squash used in making soup because it tends not to be stringy. Available year-round – peak season lasts from early fall through winter.
  photo of buttercup squash
Buttercup
Squash Buttercup Squash are part of the Turban squash family (hard shells with turban-like shapes) and are a popular variety of winter squash. This squash has a dark-green skin, sometimes accented with lighter green streaks.Has a sweet and creamy orange flesh. This squash is much sweeter than other winter varieties. Buttercup Squash can be baked, mashed, pureed, steamed, simmered, or stuffed and can replace Sweet Potatoes in most recipes. Available year-round – peak season lasts from early fall through winter.
  photo of carnival squash
Carnival Squash
Cream colored with orange spots or pale green with dark green spots in vertical stripes. Carnival Squash have hard, thick skins and only the flesh is eaten. It is sometimes labeled as a type of acorn squash.The delicious yellow meat is reminiscent of sweet potatoes and butternut squash and can be baked or steamed then combined with butter and fresh herbs. Also great in soups.Available year-round – is best late summer through early fall.
  photo of delicata squash
Delicata
Squash Also called Peanut squash and Bohemian squash. This is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like corn and sweet potatoes. Size may range from 5 to 10 inches in length. The squash can be baked or steamed The thin skin is also edible. The delicata squash is actually an heirloom variety, a fairly recent reentry into the culinary world. It was originally introduced by the Peter Henderson Company of New York City in 1894, and was popular through the 1920s. Then it fell into obscurity for about seventy-five years, possibly because of its thinner, more tender skin, which isn’t suited to transportation over thousands of miles and storage over months.Available year-round – is best late summer through early fall.
photo of Fairytale Pumpkin squash

Fairytale Pumpkin
Squash French name is “Musquee de Provence.” The fruits are flattened like a cheese but each rib makes a deep convolution. The Fairytale Pumpkin is a very unique eating and ornamental pumpkin. It’s thick but tender, and the deep orange flesh is very flavored, sweet , thick, and firm. It is 115 to 125 day pumpkin and takes a long time to turn to it’s cheese color. The distinctive coach-like shape and warm russet color make it perfect for fall decorating too.

This pumpkin is usually used for baking.  Cut it into pieces and bake in the oven.

Available September to November.

photo of Gold Nugget squash Gold Nugget Squash A variety of winter squash, which is sometimes referred to as an Oriental pumpkin that has the appearance of a small pumpkin in shape and color. It ranges in size from one to three pounds. Golden nugget squashes are small, weighing on average about 1 pound. Both the skin and the flesh are orange.Gold Nugget Squash may be cooked whole or split lengthwise (removing seeds). Pierce whole squash in several places, and bake halved squash hollow side up.Available year-round – is best season is late summer through early winter.
photo of Gray Hubbard squash
Gray Hubbard Squash
photo of Green Hubbard squash
Green Hubbard Squash
 
Hubbard
Squash The extra-hard skins make them one of the best keeping winter squashes. These are very large and irregularly shaped, with a skin that is quite “warted” and irregular. They range from big to enormous, have a blue/gray skin, and taper at the ends. Like all winter squash, they have an inedible skin, large, fully developed seeds that must be scooped out, and a dense flesh. Hubbard squash is often sold in pieces because it can grow to very large sizes. The yellow flesh of these tends to be very moist and longer cooking times in the oven are needed. They are generally peeled and boiled, cut up and roasted, or cut small and steamed or sautéed. It’s perfect for pies.

Hubbard squash, if in good condition initially, can be successfully stored 6 months at 50 to 55 degree F. with 70% relative humidity. Less rot will develop in the Hubbard squash if stems are completely removed before storage. Hubbard squash and other dark-green-skinned squashes should not be stored near apples, as the ethylene from apples may cause the skin to turn orange-yellow.

Available year-round – peak season is early fall throughout winter.

  photo of Kabocha squash
Kabocha
Squash (Also known as a Ebisu, Delica, Hoka, Hokkaido, or Japanese Pumpkin) Kabocha is the generic Japanese word for squash, but refers most commonly to a squash of the buttercup type. This squash has a green, bluish-gray or a deep orange skin. The flesh is deep yellow.Kobocha Squash may be cooked whole or split lengthwise (removing seeds). It has a rich sweet flavor, and often dry and flaky when cooked. Use in any dish in which buttercup squash would work.Available year-round.

photo of spaghetti squash

Inside of Spaghetti Squash after cooking. The squash looks like cooked noodles and may used in place of regular noodles.

SpaghettiSquash (also called vegetable spaghetti, vegetable marrow, or noodle squash)A small, watermelon-shaped variety, ranges in size from 2 to 5 pounds or more. It has a golden-yellow, oval rind and a mild, nutlike flavor. The yellowiest Spaghetti squash will be the ripest and best to eat. Those that are nearly white are not very ripe. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, larger spaghetti squash are more flavorful than smaller ones.When cooked, the flesh separates in strands that resemble spaghetti pasta.

To prepare spaghetti squash, cut the gourd in half lengthwise and remove the seeds, then bake or boil it until tender. Or, wrap it in plastic wrap and microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes. Once cooked, use a fork to rake out the “spaghetti-like” stringy flesh (all the way to the rind), and serve.

Spaghetti Squash can be stored at room temperature for about a month. After cutting, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days. Spaghetti squash also freezes well.

Available year-round – season early fall through winter.

photo of sweet dumpling squash


Sweet Dumpling Squash
This small, mildly sweet-tasting squash resembles a miniature pumpkin with its top pushed in. It has cream-colored skin with green specks. Weighing only about 7 ounces, it has sweet and tender orange flesh and is a great size for stuffing and baking as individual servings. Sweet dumplings are tiny but great for roasting and presenting whole. Available throughout the fall.


photo of Turban squash

Turban Squash Named for its shape. Turban Squash has colors that vary from bright orange, to green or white. It has golden-yellow flesh and its taste is reminiscent to hazelnut. Has a bulblike cap swelling from its blossom end, come in bizarre shapes with extravagant coloration that makes them popular as harvest ornamental.   It is popular for centerpieces, and its top can be sliced off so it can be hollowed and filled with soup. A larger variety of the buttercup squash, the turban has a bright orange-red rind. Its flesh and storage ability are comparable to the buttercup squash. Use in recipes that call or pie or sugar pumpkin.Available year-round – season is late summer through early fall.
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