Why are Winter Squash Called Winter Squash?

I don’t know about you, but during the winter months I always look forward to enjoying a meal that makes you think it isn’t winter. And I can think of only one way that can happen, making a dish using some fruit or veggie that has been stored or preserved to keep its fresh and delicious goodness. Winter squash is a veggie (techincally a fruit, but we won’t go there right now) that warms up the kitchen, saturates the air with a sweet rich aroma, and satisfies the craving for a healthy, fresh-from-the-farm meal. Winter squash is considered a starchy food, but it is also very high in sugars and over time the starches will convert themselves to sugars, making the squash that much sweeter. How sweet is that?! They are called winter squash for the shere fact that, if stored properly, they can keep through the winter months until you are ready to eat them.

Storing Squash

To store winter squash I first suggest you buy squash at the peak of the season, which is about the end of September, just before the first frost here in Newaygo. At the peak you will be able to get the highest quality squash – fully mature and if any squash had been bruised or cut, signs of imperfections would be highly visible by now.

Spreading the squash out in a dark room with a regulated temperature of about 50°F, will keep those babies in good condition through the winter months. Keep an eye on them, if their is a bad spot coming decide on a squash meal that week… just cut away the bad spot and roast in the oven or peel the skin off and cook on the stove top like you would for mashed potatoes.

Top 5 Winter Squash

Butternut are one of the most sought after squash. They have smooth tan skin (tanner the skin, the better tasting it will be!) and resemble the shape of a peanut. The name butternut refers to its moist, buttery flesh that has a slight nuttyness. Butternut bruise easily so if you decide to try to keep these over the winter you need to be as gentle as possible.

Acorn are probably the most well-known squash out there. Although they have a dark green skin, unlike an actual acorn oak nut, the shape does resemble that of an acorn. The yellow flesh is moist and a bit stringy with a deep nutty flavor. Acorn keep well into the winter. Look for acorn that have a bright orange patch. This orange patch is a sign that the acorn was well-matured when picked off the vine and will have the best chance to store for a long period.

Buttercup probably have the richest flavor of any squash, very similar to a sweet potato, but much drier with a definite squashy squash flavor. The buttercup is so-called because it has a cup-shaped button on the bottom; something like an upside-down bowl attached to an upside-down tea-cup. Buttercup do not store as well as other winter squash, but they can keep into January.

Spaghetti squash are yellow skinned and oval in shape. They have a very stringy flesh, reminiscent of, yes, you guessed it, spaghetti noodles. The flavor is very subtle (like pasta is) so it works well in place of many pasta dishes. Spaghetti squash are the first winter squash we pick and because that is the case, they almost never keep through the month of November.

Last but not least are Heart of Gold. Pretty name, no? It is my favorite squash because of many reasons, but mostly because of its unique flavor and sweetness. It is a type of acorn squash and that is evident by its shape. The skin is mostly white with dark green striping, which resembles its other parent, the sweet dumpling squash. It is a good keeper, similar to acorn.

TIP: A very simple way to prepare winter squash is to cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, lay flesh side down on a foiled cookie sheet, and bake at 375° for an hour and a half.

2 comments on Why are Winter Squash Called Winter Squash?

  • Annie

    Bernadette, I found your blog through the MagicLand website. I’m a regular customer, and my grandson is the one that will eat your Sunsugar tomatoes like they are candy. AnnMarie and I used to laugh, I always had to buy some because yours were ripe way before mine.

    Now I’m going to make your pumpkin custard, it sounds so good, then probably the maple tarts. I love maple.

    Thanks for the recipes, I’ll be checking in and when I share your recipes on the Cooking Forum I’ll link your blog, if that’s OK.

    • FarmGirl (author)

      So glad you found the blog. Annemarie loved those cherry tomatoes like candy too! I think your grandson knows the good stuff! Hey, let me know how the custard turns out. I gotta make that again soon. :) And by all means, share my blog on your forum–that would be great. Look forward to seeing you at the stand this year!

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