Botanical name/plant family: Cucurbita
Important practices: Look at my stem- make sure it's tan and dry, otherwise I was harvested too early! My skin should be tough and matte if I'm ripe, not shiny. When conventionally grown, I have the propensity to absorb insecticides from the soil — so choose organic whenever possible!.
Harvest season: Despite my misleading name, I'm typically harvested in the fall.
Great source of: Fiber, potassium and vitamins A, C, and B6. I'm also low in calories, fat and carbohydrates.
Storage methods: My tough exterior keeps it fresh without refrigeration for at least a month. Store me in a cool, dark place if I'm ripe, or out in the warm sun if I need to ripen a bit more.
Cooking methods: I can be baked, boiled. steamed, mashed, added to stews, salads or casseroles. You can even incorporate me into desserts. My skin typically isn't edible, but piercing me with a fork and microwaving me for a few minutes helps make peeling a breeze! When you scoop out my seeds, save them for roasting. I come in so many varieties that there's plenty you can do with me:
Acorn- I'm round and full of seeds, so once you scoop them out, I make the perfect edible bowl! After halving, removing the seeds and baking, stuff me with meat, rice, kale, and cheese.
Butternut- My natural creaminess makes me perfect for soup, casseroles, risottos and even macaroni and cheese with some local VT cheddar.
Honeynut- I'm butternut's smaller, easier to work with cousin - the perfect serving size for making stuffed squash! You can replace butternut with honeynut in any recipe, just keep in mind that I'm sweeter.
Delicata- Unlike other varieties, my skin in soft enough to be eaten. Try slicing me into circles roasting me with cinnamon and a bit of pure maple syrup to bring out my natural sweetness.
Red Kuri or Sunshine Kabocha- My skin is also edible once cooked, so you can substitute me for delicata. I have a rich, flavorful texture and a dark orange color. I also make a great pie or muffin.
World cuisines: Different varieties can be found around the world. Calabaza is popular in the Carribean, while kambocha is native to Japan.
Pairings: I go great with any flavors reminiscent of fall and Thanksgiving. Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and foods such as cranberries, kale, and walnuts complement me perfectly.
Winter squash became an important food for the first American settlers, so much so that it was eaten at the first Thanksgiving!
Squash has been depicted in Native American artwork dating back over 2,000 years!
In Mexico, some varieties are used by herbalists to regulate blood sugar levels.