Winter squash is a fruit of an annual garden plant related to the melon and cucumber. (Family cucurbitaceae). It has long stems and broad leaves. The flowers from the plants are also edible- usually stuffed. It has an origin of possibly Mexico or Guatemala. It has been cultivated for over 10,000 years.
As opposed to Summer Squashes, Winter squashes have hard, inedible shells. The inside of the squash has a hollow core with fully developed seeds that are encased in a stringy membrane. The seeds have a hard shell. The seeds are also edible, and are usually roasted first. The color of the flesh usually is a tone of yellow or orange. The flesh is denser and tightly compacted. It is usually sweeter and more strongly flavored than the summer squashes. When ripe, the squash lose their luster.
Winter squash usually comes into season in October, and lasts until March. Only harvest when it is fully ripe. It cannot be served raw. When cooked, it has creamy texture. Winter Squashes can be steamed, boiled, roasted, pureed, mashed, turned into soup- and the pureed flesh can be used in sweet preparations as well.
Winter squashes can be stored for 6 months. It is not recommended to refrigerate the squash. As the fruit ages after picked, the flesh becomes more fibrous, and less dense.
Winter squash are a good source of potassium, vitamins A and C, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and copper.
Flavors for Winter Squash