Food and Cooking Encyclopedia: Squash
A general term for a group of vegetables that includes hard-shelled, edible gourds and soft-skinned vegetables that grow on vines. Squashes come in round, bulbous, turbanlike, and elongated shapes, and some have brilliantly colored rinds and skins.
Traditionally, squashes are classified as summer and winter types. However, these classifications have blurred, because many squashes now are available year-round. Summer squashes generally mature in the summer months, are soft-skinned, and slice easily. Many are delicious raw or cooked. Winter squashes are hard-shelled, generally mature in the fall, and can be stored for winter use. These squashes must be cooked before eating.
Winter Squash Varieties
Here are a few of the many varieties of squash you can find from early fall through winter.
Turban - These handsome squashes do indeed look like turbans. They have a buttery flavor and slightly floral aroma.
Hubbard - The rough-skinned Hubbard has a thick, orange pulp. Quarter, season, and bake, covered, for best results.
Banana - This red-orange giant has a flavor and texture similar to the butternut squash. Peel, cut into slices, and steam it. Then brush with margarine or butter and grill.
Buttercup - Similar to an acorn squash, the buttercup is rounder and larger. Prepare this great green globe the same way you would a hubbard squash or an acorn squash.
Spaghetti - When cooked, the inside pulp of this oblong yellow squash really does resemble spaghetti. Toss with a little tomato sauce, grab a fork, and twirl away.
Acorn - An annual holiday favorite, the acorn squash has a soft and sweet golden flesh. This small squash is the perfect size for single servings.
Butternut - The cooked pulp of this beige, bottle-shaped squash is very smooth. Steam it and mash it with a little olive oil, margarine, or butter for rich flavor. Or, use it to make a delectable soup.
Choose a well-shaped squash with good color for the variety. It should be heavy for its size, dry, and free from heavy bruising or cracks.
Store winter squashes in a cool, dry place for up to 2 months. Summer squashes and tightly wrapped cut winter squashes can be stored for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.