Teri’s “Better than Butternut” Winter Squash Guide

We don’t grow Butternut Squash. Most years our season isn’t long enough for them to reliably reach maturity, also they are large, prone to hail damage, and produce few marketable fruits per foot compared to other varieties. There are heaps of other varieties of squash that are more flavourful and versatile than Butternut Squash, but it remains the standard in many recipes, and is often the one people ask for. We dropped it from our production years ago and I don’t miss it one bit because the varieties we grow are better suited for what we do than Butternut!

I find that people tend to over complicate things when they talk about squash.  It’s really just a big mature cucumber in different shapes!!  (literally, they are in the same family!). In my mind, there are 3 types of squash: Big mushy ones for soup and baking, smaller specialty ones for roasting, and stringy Spaghetti Squash. Big distinctions between varieties can’t be made because I’ve seen bigger differences within the same variety depending on what time in the season you eat it.  Directly after harvest they are starchy and less sweet.  Over time they become sweeter and less starchy, which means the flesh behaves differently when you cook it, depending on the season. 

In the “Big Mushy Ones” category you’ll find Kabocha (Sunshine and Winter Sweet), Buttercup, Pie Pumpkins, and Pink Banana. These are your best choice for soups, pies, baking, etc. They have dense, sweet, uniform flesh that is easily roasted or baked.

The second category includes small ones like Acorn, Honeynut and Delicata, that you typically would just eat as a squash rather than using the flesh to bake or soup with because of the size and shape (because who wants to peel an acorn squash?!).

Then there’s Spaghetti, in a class of it’s own (except if you decide to eat a Jack o Lantern pumpkin). Stringy and unique!

Season: Winter Squash is ready in late August and goes until at least Christmas.

Storage Tips: SQUASH DOES NOT GO IN THE FRIDGE!!

That’s big and bold because it’s a very, very common mistake. When you store whole squash in the fridge or root cellar, it rots. I’ve seen many farmers make the same mistake storing their squash crop in cold storage. We cure ours for at least 3 weeks in the warm greenhouse before lugging it upstairs in the shed to store for winter.

Keep your squash in your kitchen, or a nice cozy room in your house. They’re beautiful enough you can gaze at it a while before eating it! It’s ideal storage temperature is around 10*C, but as most people (including us) don’t have somewhere with that as a constant, having it warmer is preferable to cooler. Once cut, squash does go in the fridge, and cut squash has a very short shelf life of 3 – 5 days, so eat it up quickly once you start. You can peel, cube, steam, and freeze it if you’re not going to eat it all at once, or just make a big pot of soup and then freeze that.

Preparation Tips:
Use caution when cutting open squash. Make sure you start with a good, sharp knife and flat edge when possible. You can remove the stem easily by whacking it on the edge of a counter or with the back of a knife, which is much safer than cutting it off.


BIG MUSHY SOUP SQUASHES:

Sunshine Kabocha – Orange skin and flesh. Lots of meaty flesh, well suited for soups and baking. Sweet and dense. Makes the best thick squash soup when cooked early in the season just after harvest.

Winter Sweet Kabocha– Grey skin and orange flesh. Longest keeper. Lots of meaty flesh, well suited for soups and baking. Sweet and dense.

Buttercup – Green skin, yellow flesh. Very sweet and can be dry depending on how you cook it. Great for baking or soups as well as fresh eating.

Pie Pumpkins – We grew a variety with hull less seeds this year as well as a standard Pie Pumpkin. Generally pumpkin is more moist than other squashes and so it is well suited to baking, cooking, and pumpkin spice lattes!

ROASTING SQUASHES:

Delicata Squash – Oblong yellow striped skin with thin, not-too-sweet pale flesh that darkens to orange as it stores. The skin is thin and edible which makes this squash easy to use and well suited to roasting, stuffing, baking or frying.

Celebration Acorn Squash – This is a new variety for us this year. We switched to it as we haven’t been happy with the production nor the storage of our green Acorn squash the past few years. It is supposed to have the best flavour of any Acorn squash and has white skin flecked with orange and green and light yellow fine-grained flesh.

Honeynut Squash: The solution to Butternut. This is the smaller, sweeter version. They are only a pound or two each and require curing after harvest to sweeten. The green skin eventually turns dusty orange by Christmas and the flesh is orange as well. Sweet and dense and versatile for soups, roasting, baking, or any purpose!

STRINGY SQUASH:

Spaghetti Squash: This one is popular and well known so I don’t have to say anything about it in order for you to buy it. Which is good because I don’t prefer it, so don’t have anything particularly enticing to say about it… And I am still amazed at the people who hear me say this and feel the need to tell me all about how they add tomato sauce to it and it’s just like spaghetti. (I get it, I just think it’s bland and flavourless. HUGE eye roll!)



I’m having major internet and WordPress issues today so I’m quitting before it becomes necessary to heave my computer out the window, because it’s getting close. Planning to revist this and add my favourite Squash Recipes soon if I can get it to work. Check out the Recipes page on our site for now. (I would add a link but every time I do the whole thing crashes this morning, so you’ll have to self serve!)

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