The squash family is made up of more than just green zucchinis and yellow squash. There are several interesting squash varieties to know about, despite their prominence in the vegetable aisle.
To begin with, let’s resolve a common debate: Is squash a vegetable or a fruit? Many people believe squash is a vegetable because we prepare it. However, it is, in fact, a fruit since it has seeds and flowers.
Pumpkins, gourds, and squash are all members of the Cucurbitaceae plant family, which is why they’re typically categorized together. Pumpkins, on the other hand, are a form of squash, whereas gourds are not.
So, how can you prepare squash in different ways? You can make a tasty sautéed side dish. Alternatively, you can grill, roast, or puree it into a soup. Summer squash may also be spiraled into zoodles, a trendy and healthy meal. Let’s have a look at the different types of squash.
1. Acorn Squash
Acorn squash is one of the original types of squash in America. It reaches one to three pounds in weight. They’re shaped like acorns, as the name implies. The skin is a mix of dark green and yellow in color. It’s fresh if there’s a fair balance of both hues; if there’s too much yellow, it’s overripe.
Because of its distinctive form, pronounced ridges, and deep green skin, acorn squash is simple to detect in harvest exhibits and at farm stands.
They come in a convenient size (approximately two servings for every squash), which is ideal for one of our favorite preparations: seeded, halved, and roasted until lightly browned, with brown sugar and butter or maple syrup dissolving into the well within. As a consequence, each individual gets one wonderful, buttery half with stunning yellow-orange flesh.
The acorn squash’s thin skin makes it simpler to cut and peel as compared to many other squashes with thicker skin. Another advantage is that the acorn squash’s skin is digestible, so you can boil it with the skin and consume it whole.
Butter, cheese, cream or a thick layer of olive oil prior to baking or roasting enhances the flavor of acorn squash to new heights. Acorn squash is less sweet and more neutral than hubbard squash or butternut, but like several other squashes, it goes well with a broad range of flavors—spicy, sweet, and savory.
It may be pureed or roasted, pickled or marinated, and presented as a component of a relish platter or antipasto dish, much like any other winter squash. It also has a unique trait that distinguishes it from other winter squash: its precise shape and size make it ideal for stuffing. The vegetable is a brilliant vegan choice for a holiday meal when prepared as a cup for stuffings, such as grains.
Acorn squash is available from early autumn until December. Acorn squash must have deep green skin with yellow-orange spots or striations when purchased. Choose acorn squash with a smooth, taut skin that is devoid of flaws.
Whenever possible, purchase squash that has the stem still attached. It not only makes a lovely handle, but it also prevents the squash from deteriorating.
If the squash feels lightweight when you lift it, it’s likely to be dry as you split it open. Store acorn squash in a cool, dark area for up to 1 month at room temperature.
2. Banana Squash
Banana squash is a vegetable that, if you see growing in a field, you may not be able to identify because it is practically never offered in its natural state.
Banana squash has a mild pinkish-orange color and is cylinder-shaped. They’re available all year, but they’re particularly popular during autumn and winter. They can grow to be three feet long. Before eating or cooking, the thick skin is removed but the meat is edible.
Banana squash derives its title not from its enormous size, but from its rectangular dimensions and pale, creamy yellow skin—though other variations are light pink and some types, known called rainbow, are striped.
Now that you have a mental image of a three foot squash weighing 30 pounds, you can understand why you nearly never see a full one at the grocery store. For starters, they take up much too much room. Furthermore, most customers are scared by veggies that appear to be capable of eating them instead of the other way round.
Banana squash has a similar sweet, understated flavor to butternut squash. It may be used in any dish that asks for a winter squash with an orange flesh, such as acorn, butternut, or kabocha. It goes nicely with lamb, pork, and apricots, and also herbs and spices like cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, cloves, and nutmeg.
Banana squash is best used in dishes by roasting, steaming, baking, grilling, and frying. Banana squashes are typically roasted, cut into cubes or rings, and used in soups, chilli, and stews.
They may also be used as a side dish or sliced thinly for pizza toppings and fresh green salads. Crème fraiche, butter, aged sheep’s cheeses, pig belly, cream, truffles, lamb, orange juice, apricot preserves, and herbs like bay, thyme, sage, cumin rosemary, curry, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg go well with banana squash. When kept in a cold, humid environment, they will last for several months.
3. Buttercup Squash
Buttercup squash features green skin and orange flesh, and is named for its appearance, which mimics a peanut butter cup. The flesh tastes sweet and delicious when pureed for soup. It’s also commonly served sliced and roasted as a tasty side dish.
We don’t suggest peeling this squash; instead, leave the skin on and scrape out the flesh! Break it in half using a broad, hefty knife. Scrape out the seeds with a hefty spoon (except the seeds to roast later).
Buttercup squash, sometimes known as turban squash, is a winter squash with a peak season that begins in early autumn and lasts all winter. It has a luscious, creamy orange flesh.
Choose a ripe squash to get the most of this delectable squash. The squash is ready to eat once the cap has firmed up. It’s likely past its prime if it’s soft. If you discover a nice one, you may keep it for up to two months in a cold, dry spot.
Any kind of winter squash, like delicata, can easily be substituted for buttercup if the moisture is removed by steaming or stewing it. It might taste dry if you don’t use it. Another option is to roast it in the oven, or you may boil it to extract the moisture if you have time to get rid of the skin.
Like most other types of squash, buttercup squash creates a substantial, creamy soup foundation. Buttercup squash also works well as a sweet potato alternative, so if you’ve a favorite sweet potato meal, try using buttercup squash instead.
This vegetable is a terrific staple for delectable fall and winter recipes, and it also has some great health advantages; it’s high in vitamins and fiber, so you can eat it guilt-free.
4. Butternut Squash
Butternut squash, one of the most popular winter squash cultivars, is available all year with a high season during fall and winter. Their skin is a light beige color with a hint of orange. In contrast, the flesh is a vivid orange color.
Butternuts, like their relatives, the acorn and kabocha winter squash, are at their peak from early fall through early January. Their striking feature is that they are bigger than the majority of other winter squash, ranging in length from six to twelve inches and weight from two to five pounds. They feature a bright orange meat with a firm, light-tan rind.
This vegetable shines throughout the festive season when incorporated in side dishes and appears in a variety of classic fall recipes, like soups and pasta (cue the creamy gratin). It’s also used to produce a spectacular and popular Thanksgiving pie. We’re big fans, so you can bet we’ll be baking and roasting butternut squash for purées, soups, and more this autumn and winter.
When buying butternut squash, what should you check for? Select one that seems substantially heavy in comparison with its size.
The skin should have a matte finish and be smooth and homogeneous in color. The tiniest seed cavity and greatest flesh will be found in a squash with a thick neck and tiny bulb.
Any with soft patches, bruising, or mold should be avoided. You’ll be glad to hear that once you locate a good one, it’s a keeper. This robust squash may be stored in a cold, dry area for up to three months.
Butternut squash, on the other hand, will not stay as long in a hot kitchen. If at all feasible, store butternut squash in the basement or a similar colder location.
Butternut squash should not be kept whole, but should be wrapped carefully and chilled once chopped. Follow our butternut squash cutting technique for halving, slicing, or cutting wedges of vivid orange flesh from the smooth skin.
Squash is typically cultivated between late spring and early summer and matures in 50 to 100 days, depending on the variety. While there are summer and winter squash varieties, both are warm-weather crops with a number of varieties accessible throughout the year.