Winter Squash

Background Info: 

  • Originated in Mexico & Central America
  • Main crop among Native Americans. They would eat the flowers, flesh and seeds of the plants and would even use them as containers and utensils

Varieties: check out the page Comparing Winter Squash to see all the differences

  • All types are yellow or orange inside
  • Vary from small sizes of 1 to 2 pounds up to more than 20 pounds
  • The outside texture can be bumpy or smooth
  • Various outside hues from red and yellow to green and blue.

Health Benefits:

  • All expect spaghetti squash are a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber
  • The seeds can be roasted or dried for a snack and are a good source of protein & magnesium plus other nutrients

Nutrition Information (1/2 cup, cooked):

  • Calories: 40
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrate: 9 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 3 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 0 grams
  • Vitamin A: 110%
  • Vitamin C: 15%
  • Calcium: 2%
  • Iron: 2%

Flavor:

  • Candy-sweet

Season: 

  • The name seems deceptive because they can be grown year-round
  • They get their name because they are often planted during the warmer months and harvested before the 1st frost

Choose: 

  • Firm squash
  • No soft spots or blemishes
  • The best ones are those that are heavy for their size

Store: 

  • Cool, dry place

Cooking: 

  • Winter squash often has a thick, tough skin that makes peeling hard. It is usually easier to cook the unpeeled squash and then scoop out the cooked flesh afterwards.
  • Scoop out any seeds before cooking.
  • To bake: Using a whole or halved winter squash,  poke holes in the skin with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degree F for 45 minutes.
  • To boil: Cut squash into four pieces or rings and place in a pot of boiling water. Boil 25 minutes or until tender.
  • To microwave: Place halves or quarters, cut side down, in a shallow dish; add ¼ cup water. Cover tightly and microwave on high 6 to 8 minutes or until soft.
  • Squash is cooked when it is easy to cut with a fork,  and the skin peels off easily.
  • Try roasting or drying the seeds for a snack

Serving: 

  • Add peeled, cooked squash cubes to your favorite soups, stews, beans, casseroles, and sauces
  • Cooked winter squash makes a great side dish for meat, poultry, or fish
  • Try either sweet or savory: season with maple syrup, ginger or cinnamon, or try onion, garlic, and herbs.

Storage: 

  • Cooked squash may be frozen in an airtight container not made from metal

References:

  • “Winter squash, fresh.” (December 2012). USDA. Retrieved from http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/HHFS_WINTERSQUASH_FRESH_900150Dec2012.pdf
  • “Bounty Hunger.” Shape. November 2014. 160.
  • Moore, Marisa. “Winter Squash”. Food and Nutrition. November/December 2016. 30-31.
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