Winter squash originated in the Americas, and is in the same family as summer squash, pumpkins and melons.
Most winter squash are sweet and slightly nutty in flavour. Winter squash tends to be more nutrient dense than summer varieties, rich with beta-carotene (especially the varieties with deep orange flesh) and B vitamins. Winter squash also contains vitamin C, potassium and lots of fibre.
Winter squash seeds are also nutritious. You can add a little olive oil and salt to the dry seeds and bake them in the oven for snacking.
Some varieties from Fair Fields:
Acorn Squash is shaped like an acorn, typically weighing 1-2 pounds, dark green in colour, often with a splotch of orange on the top or side. The ribs make it tricky to cut and so most often these squash are cut in half and baked (often with a little butter and maple syrup, honey or brown sugar in the middle where seeds and fibres have been scooped out).
Buttercup is a large squash, shaped like a drum, round on the sides and flat on the top and bottom, dark green with a few light green or grey stripes. Buttercup has deep-orange, sweet and smooth flesh. It’s lovely cut in half, baked in the oven with chopped apples or pears, brown sugar, butter and lemon juice in the scooped out halves.
Butternut squash shaped like a bell with a long neck. The skin is easier to peel than other squashes and the flesh is deep-orange, moist and sweet. Butternut squash is frequently used in soups and purees and can be substituted for pumpkin in pumpkin pie. Butternut has a longer shelf life than most other squash and improves as it ages.
Delicata is a yellow or ivory cylindrical squash with green stripes and flecks and shallow grooves. Delicata is milder and not as sweet as some other winter squash. Its thin skin can be eaten. This squash can be steamed or roasted until tender. Delicata has a shorter shelf life than other squashes.
Hubbard squash has a tear-drop shape and smooth grey-blue skin. The baby blue hubbard grows to 5-7 pounds. (Other varieties of Hubbard squash get much larger.) The skin is tough, the flesh a dense, deep yellow-gold. Hubbard squashes are quite sweet and are great for baking.
Kabocha squash looks similar to buttercup, but more rounded on top. It has a knobbly-looking dull green skin and orange flesh that is sweet and dry and stores well. The average Kabocha squash weights 2-3 pounds. Its flesh has a taste that is described as a pumpkin and sweet potato combined. It is a common ingredient in Japanese tempura.
Spaghetti Squash is yellow outside and in. It is quite bland and very different in texture from most other squash. When baked and cut in half lengthwise, spaghetti-like strands of squash can be scraped out of the shell with a fork. Stir in some chopped garlic and parsley that have been sautéed in butter and add grated parmesan for a simple, delicious dish.
Sweet Dumpling is small, mild, and sweet-tasting. This squash has a cream-coloured skin with green stripes and specks. The yellow-orange flesh is tender and the size is great for stuffing and baking as individual servings.