Winter Squash

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Winter Squash – includes pumpkins and acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash.  These vary in shape, color, size, and flavor, but they do share some common characteristics.  Their shells are hard and difficult to pierce; their flesh is mildly sweet in flavor and finely grained in texture.  They also all have seed-containing hollow inner cavities.

Pumpkins: Small sugar pumpkins are the culinary variant, weighing only a few pounds, as opposed to the larger varieties used for carving.

Acorn squash:  Harvest green skin speckled with orange patches, and pale yellow-orange flesh.  It has a very unique sweet, nutty, and peppery flavor.

Butternut squash:  Shaped like a large pear, this squash has cream-colored skin, deep orange – colored flesh, and a sweet flavor

Spaghetti squash:  A larger-sized, yellow squash with light colored flesh that when pulled apart with a fork after cooked resembling spaghetti when cooked.  Try adding your favorite toppings.

How to buy/store:  Winter squash are prone to decaying easily so inspect carefully before purchasing.  Winter squash should be firm, heavy for their size and have dull hard rinds.  Once purchased, winter squash should be kept away from direct exposure to light and should not be subject to extreme heat or cold.  Winter squash has a much longer storage life than summer squash.  If purchasing canned pumpkin (which is very easy and convenient) be sure the only ingredient is “Pumpkin”; do not buy pumpkin pie mix.

How to use:  Wash thoroughly.  Cut in half and remove the seeds and fibrous materials in the cavity.  Depending upon the recipe preparation, you can use the winter squash either peeled or unpeeled.  To cook halved squash, pierce it in several locations with a knife to allow any steam to escape, and then bake at 350 degrees F. oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

Squash is long-lasting, inexpensive, and mild enough in flavor that it makes for a good addition (flavor, vitamins and fiber) to many side dishes and soups.

Pumpkin, acorn, and butternut squash are often mashed like potatoes and either eaten as such or used in bread, cakes etc.

Spaghetti squash is often prepared as a substitute for spaghetti; you can then add your favorite spaghetti toppings.

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