Monday, May 12, 2008

Squash Varieties (Part 2 of 4)

Butternut - Easily found in supermarkets. Beige colored and shaped like a vase. This is a more watery squash and tastes somewhat similar to sweet potatoes. It has a bulbous end and pale, creamy skin, with a choice, fine-textured, deep-orange flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor. It weighs from 2 to 5 pounds. The oranger the color, the riper, drier and sweeter the squash.  
Available year-round - peak season lasts from early fall through winter.

Buttercup - Buttercup Squash are part of the Turban squash family (hard shells with turban-like shapes) and are a popular variety of winter squash.
Has a sweet and creamy orange flesh. This squash is much sweeter than other winter varieties. Buttercup Squash can be baked, mashed, pureed, steamed,simmered, or stuffed and can replace Sweet Potatoes in most recipes.

Carnival Squash - Cream colored with orange spots or pale green with dark green spots in vertical stripes - coloration sometimes divided part and part - golden flesh. Carnival Squash have hard, thick skins and only the flesh is eaten.
The delicious yellow meat is reminiscent of sweet potatoes and butternut squash and can be baked or steamed then combined with butter and fresh herbs.
Available year-round - is best late summer through early fall.

Delicata - Also called Sweet Potato, Peanut squash, and Bohemian squash. This is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like sweet potatoes. Size may range from 5 to 10 inches in length. The squash can be baked or steamed The skin is also edible.
The Delicata squash is actually an heirloom variety, a fairly recent reentry into the culinary world. It was originally introduced by the Peter Henderson Company of New York City in 1894, and was popular through the 1920s. Then it fell into obscurity for about seventy-five years, possibly because of its thinner, more tender skin, which isn't suited to transportation over thousands of miles and storage over months.
Available year-round - is best late summer through early fall.

Fairytail Pumpkin - French name is "Musquee de Provence." The 4fruits are flattened like a cheese but each rib makes a deep convolution. The Fairytale Pumpkin is a very unique eating and ornamental pumpkin plants . It's thick but tender, and the deep orange flesh is very flavored, sweet , thick, and firm. It is 115 to 125 day pumpkin and takes a long time to turn to it's cheese color. The distinctive coach-like shape and warm russet color make it perfect for fall decorating too.
This pumpkin is usually used for baking.  Cut it into pieces and bake in the oven.
Available September to November.


A Primer on Winter Squash, North Coast Cooperative.

The Sweet & Savory Sides of Winter Squash, by Ris Lacoste, Taunton Press.

Winter Squash Good Keepers in Produce Department, by Patricia Aaron, Sept. 24, 2003.

Wonderful Winter Squash, by Terra Brockman, Conscious Choice, October 2002.