Winter Squash

Winter Squashes

My favorite squashes to grow and eat. There are several way to prepare them. Steam, bake, smoke, BBQ, all provide a unique flavor each to it own. I have even grilled some of the thicker meats. Currently there are a couple recipes for winter squashes and I will add more to our Good Life Good Food page in the upcoming months. Should you have a favorite winter squash and preparation style you’d ;like to share please go here and fill out the contact form or leave a message with your contact information via the Speakpipe feature.

Commercial display photo I took in 2014 at the Community Roots farmers Market Aladay Organic farms used to participate in.

There are two basic types of squash. Summer and winter squash. Summer squash tend to be smaller (although if you grow zucchini and forget to harvest for a couple of days, be prepared for fruit the size of toddler’s legs!) and are eaten before the rinds and seeds begin to harden. Winter squash take longer to grow, are less symmetrical, and have hardened rinds that are either smooth or rough-textured. Winter Squash also store longer. I have actually stored them over the winter in a cool dry place

Pumpkins are the most famous type of winter squash. Most pumpkins are bred for decorative (hello jack o’lanterns!) rather than edible purposes. But, of course, you can make wonderful pumpkin pies, breads, soups, and other hearty fall delicacies from these big, orange winter vegetables. Surprisingly, most canned “pumpkin” isn’t pumpkin at all, but other varieties of winter squash such as Delicious and Boston Marrow. The first plant I ever grew was a Pumpkins.  I remember asking my father…

Daddy would you grow pumpkins for me this summer? .My Father replied…No son, I won’t grow them but I will teach you how to grow them how’s that sound?? I was four and thought these were the coolest things to grow cuz you could cut a face into them and then make a pie. I will write another article specifically on pumpkins since there are so many now. When my father came home from work the next day he took me to the nursery and had me pick the seeds out, there were three types at that time, now there are over a dozen. But my first endeavor in growing pumpkins…I grew a 23 pound pumpkin that summer, I can still see my dads beaming smile as he bragged to everyone in the neighborhood and friends. He would even bring co-workers home to show them and brag about his son the “Pumpkin Grower”. A lass…that’s a story for another time.

Gourds are winter squash grown primarily for decorative and storage purposes, as they have hard shells and unpalatable or even inedible flesh. Gourds make lovely birdhouses, bowls, and percussion instruments.

Here are some of the most popular edible squash varieties:

Spaghetti squash

These are yellow, oblong squash whose flesh form into spaghetti-like strands when cooked. They’re great as a pasta substitute, baked and topped with tomato sauce and plant-based parmesan, or halved and roasted to give them a nuttier taste. One of my Favorites. Look for recipes our Good Life Good Food Recipe of the Week page.

Butternut squash

These are the longevity all-stars of the squash world. After harvesting, store them in a cool, dark place that has just the right amount of humidity, and they’ll overwinter like champs, lasting 3-6 months or even longer. You can peel, cube, and steam the flesh to make creamy and rich soups and stews. Or slice and roast them with herbs to enjoy butternut squash rings.

Acorn squash

These are, as you might have surmised, shaped like giant green acorns. Small enough to be the centerpiece of a meal for two, acorn squash is awesome baked or roasted. They have a sweet note that can be enhanced by drizzling some cinnamon and maple syrup over the flesh before cooking.

Pumpkins

These are just smallish versions of the classic orange pumpkin. If you’ve ever carved a large orange pumpkin, you know that the flesh can be bland, hard, and fibrous — three adjectives rarely used by admiring chefs

Sugar pumpkins have softer, sweeter flesh that cooks well and offers a lot of flavor and color to holiday dishes.AsIstatedabovetherearesommanyvaritiesofPumpkinsthatI’llwriteaseperatearticleonthissquash

Carnival squash

Carnival squash is a variety of the adorably-named dumpling squash clan. If you can get a carnival to grow in your garden, prepare for an inundation of fruit. They’re roundish with lovely markings and are great baked, steamed, sliced on the grill, or stuffed.

                                                                   Banana squash

These are given the heroic name Cucurbita maxima, are related to pumpkins and have absolutely nothing in common with bananas except perhaps a vague resemblance in shape. You can slice them into rings or cubes, and use them as you’d use butternut or any other winter squash.

Delicata JS

Photo Johnny’s Seeds

Unique appearance with cream skin and dark green longitudinal stripes and flecks. Tastes very sweet and skin is tender enough to eat. Excellent for stuffing and baking, even right at harvest! This beautiful strain has gained a nice following in the specialty produce trade. This is a softer skinned winter squash.

Storage Tip

Remember when storing winter squash. The thicker/harder the skin the longer the storage life. One of the best places to store winter squashes is in the garage next to the house wall. You can use newspaper, (they still have those right???), or use straw to lay them on to keep them dry. I use straw in wooden boxes.

Winter Sweet delivers a winning combination of sweetness, flaky texture, and depth of flavor that has made it a favorite on our research farm. Not only that, this reliable producer keeps very well and improves with storage. Distinctive, with light gray skin and charcoal mottle.
A beloved heirloom with a hard, bumpy, blue-green shell. A fall tradition at New England roadside stands. Medium-dry, medium-sweet yellow flesh. Avg. weight: 12–15 lb., with some larger. This is also another that has a flesh that is thick and can be prepared is several ways. One of my favorites is to smoke them. Storage life is longer as the skin is hard and thick.

Sweet Dumpling Delicata Squash

Photo Johnny’ Seeds

Sweet, single-serving size.
Ivory with dark green stripes like a delicata, but dainty and teacup shaped. Only 4″ in diameter, small enough for a single meal. Very sweet, tender orange flesh. Suitable for stuffing. Medium length vines
Johnny’s Seeds is a great place to purchase organic seeds. Follow the link for a complete selection of seed for Summer and Winter Squashes. If you have a farm or are starting out on a commercial level no matter how large or small they will set up an account for you. They also sell to the common folk. One of the reasons I recommend them.
Until Next Time Folks…
Happy gardening
Photos by Aaron Aveiro Unless otherwise noted.
Written by Aaron Aveiro with some information from Johnny’s Seeds
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