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Tender Profile | Winter Squash

 Burnt Rock Farm Acorn Squash

Burnt Rock Farm Acorn Squash

Winter Squash

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.

 

Fun Fact:

  • 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.