There were so many kinds of beautiful winter squash at the farmer’s markets this week. Here is a visual guide plus some recipes for just some of the many varieties you can buy locally this fall and winter. Winter squash is packed with beta carotene, which is good for your eyes and immune system – so stock up and keep it interesting.
I snuck is some pumpkins at the end. After all, Halloween is coming up and someone will be demanding pumpkin pie.
What’s the difference between a squash and a pumpkin? Not much. A better answer is the difference between gourds and pumpkins or squash. The gourd you just look at, while you can eat squash and pumpkins. And isn’t that all we care about? Eating.
Australians use the terms squash and pumpkin interchangeably and most people think of squash as those soft summery zucchini-like vegetables with edible soft flesh, and pumpkins as the winter squashes, with harder flesh that is available in the colder months.
Genetically they all belong to the Curcubita family and some believe the tell-tale sign has to do with the stems.
Delicata Squash belongs to the summer variety of squashes, like zucchini. It is not too sweet and the skin is super thin so you don’t have to peel it. Since it is small it’s great for a couples dinner or as a side if you’re having guests. The seeds are pretty tasty for roasting, too.
Acorn Squash – Good old acorn squash actually belongs to the summer squashes, too. It’s the perfect size to serve as a bowl for soup. It isn’t as rich in beta carotene as other squashes but is high in fiber and potassium. It can be stored for several months in a cool dry place.
Kobacha – A Japanese winter squash variety, in some cultures it is thought to be an aphrodisiac that goes by the name Fak Thong in Thailand. It has a strong squash flavor that is sweeter than butternut squash and the texture of the flesh is fluffy like a chestnut.
Butternut – Butternut squash grows on a vine. It is perfect for soups and purees. It resembles a pumpkin in flavor and as the insides ripen and become more red, the flavor deepens and sweetens.
Carnival – a type of winter squash that belongs in the same family as acorn and delicata, it’s yellow flesh is similar in flavor to a sweet potato. Pick a carnival squash with a hard tough shell, otherwise it is not mature or of poor quality.
Spaghetti Squash – This squash is fun an the insides actually are like spaghetti and can be used as pasta with sauces to save on some calories. It is high in folic acid and low in calories. The more orange the spaghetti squash, the higher it is in beta carotene.
Hubbard Squash – A variety belonging to the same species as Kobacha and Buttercup squash, Hubbard is often used as a substitute for pumpkin. It also comes in a greyish green variety and is tear drop shaped. There is uncertainty about who it is named after.
Long Island Cheese Pumpkin – In my opinion these are the prettiest pumpkins with the most interesting color shell. They originated in Central America and are of the same species as Butternut Squash and Calabaza. It makes a great pumpkin pie.
White Lady Pumpkin – There is not much information on this particular variety of pumpkin, but the abundance of recipes I have found that use White Pumpkins are in Indian cuisine.
• The Great White Pumpkin Cheese Ball Recipe (no pumpkin used in recipe – but adorable!)