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The abundant blessing of winter squash
Winter squash provide some of the most interesting cooking opportunities of all the vegetables. That’s because each variety of squash tastes different, and performs differently in the kitchen. Your fall garden gave you an abundance of storage squash and now you’re wondering how to use them. Let’s take a look at the differences between types, and recipes I use with the varieties that I grow.
All about Squash
All squash are in the Cucurbita genus. The main species of cucurbits are pepo, maxima, and moschata:
- pepo: acorn squash, delicata, and some specialty pumpkins
- maxima: buttercup, Hubbard, kabocha, giant pumpkins
- moschata: butternut, most pumpkins
Storage times for different species of squash will often determine when you cook with them. All varieties of C. pepo will store in cool, dry environments for 2-3 months. These are the first varieties to cook with in the late fall and early winter months.
C.maxima and C.moschata varieites will need to be stored for a month or two in order to reach maximum sweetness. They store well for 4-6 months depending on variety. Plan your meals around these golden orange beauties throughout the winter and into spring.
Choosing Which Squash to Grow and Store
Since my garden produces so many other types of vegetables in the fall that need to be eaten sooner, I’ve chosen to only grow the longer storing winter squash. The recipes I cook throughout the winter reflect the unique flavors and textures of those varieties.
North Georgia Candy Roaster is a C. maxima squash shaped like an enormous 10-15 pound banana with a blue tip. It maintains its superior eating quality up to five months with proper storage. It is the only winter squash I’m aware of that mashes itself while roasting! This is a decided advantage when you want to serve a sweet mashed squash dish. Simply slice in half long ways, roast covered, scrape into a bowl, add brown sugar, salt, butter, and serve.
Greek Red Squash, C.maxima, is a long-necked, reddish-tan fruit filled with sweet, deep orange flesh that’s richly flavored. The flesh cooks quickly so it’s important to cut cooking times whether boiling or roasting. This variety works well in sweet dishes, or savory ones that need a sweet balance.
Pennsylvania Crookneck Squash are a very long storing C. moschata variety. These are my go-to squash for savory dishes, or for Sage Roasted Squash Cubes. To make these, peel and dice the squash, then toss them in olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, and rubbed sage. Roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
3 Tasty Winter Squash Recipes