With so many different shapes and sizes and colors, squash are the most fun of all winter produce to look at and handle. The varieties described below barely scratch the surface:
- Acorn. These can be small, round and ridged, and they might have variegated orange and green skin; its deep orange flesh is sweeter than pumpkin but less so than sweet potatoes.
- Butternut. Butternut squash is typically long-necked and pot-bellied with creamy beige skin. The orange flesh is quintessentially "squashy": mildly sweet and slightly nutty.
- Spaghetti. When scraped out with a fork, the flesh forms golden strands that look like spaghetti and taste like zucchini.
- Sweet dumpling. Its yellow flesh looks and tastes something like sweet corn.
Cooking uses vary with the type of squash. All are good for baking, steaming and mashing. However, darker-colored varieties are firmer and sweeter. Butternut is excellent in baked goods from pies to pancakes to bread puddings, for instance, while spaghetti is decidedly a side dish.
Squash seeds are a bonus, like the free prize in cereal boxes. Cleaned and roasted, they have a nutty taste. Eat them plain, salted or seasoned; alone or added to homemade or store-bought trail mix and granola.
Ripe, quality squash is thick-skinned and heavy for its size. Kept cool and dry, it'll maintain that quality about three months.
Our next entry brings us to the end of our autumn harvest tour. Like many tour highlights, this one is marked with an "X."