Squash

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.

Varieties:

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.

Selecting:

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.

Storing:

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.


How to Cook Squash
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