There are so many different species with what many of us call, "Winter Squashes". Technically they are known as genus Cucurbita. These wonderful squashes are typically harvested once they mature, The skin has toughened and is not easily punctured and the seeds within each fruit have matured. Most winter squash has a pretty long shelf life after harvested if kept properly stored. Typically 3 to 4 months sometimes even longer. Most of us are familiar with Butternut, Acorn, and Spaghetti squash. But have you tried a Kuri or a Sweet Dumpling?
Red Kuri~Commonly known as a Hubbard Squash or Orange Hokkaido. They have a smooth tender silky texture but firm flesh inside once they are cooked. Their taste is known to have an earthy, chesnut flavor that is very sweet. Once it is baked it makes great soups, pies, purees and breads. For simple preparation they are wonderful roasted. Not only are they tasty but are packed full of fiber. Their deep color of orange/red is full of beta carotene. They also provide vitamin A and vitamin C, some of the B vitamins, calcium, potassium, iron, riboflavin and thiamine.
Sweet Dumplings~ They have flesh that taste very similar to that of a sweet potato, and the skin is edible is as well. Use sweet dumpling squash are sweet, nutty flavor and a smooth, creamy texture but the flesh is fairly dry which helps it to caramelize when it's roasted. They are great to use in recipes calling for sweet potatoes or pumpkin. Another great feature for this squash is they are typically small and compact enough to use a one serving squash stuffed. Sweet Dumplings are typically extremely High in Vitamin A and C as well as they contain small amounts of iron and calcium.
Jack Be Little~ It is amazing but these little pumpkins are not just for decoration but are a very healthy little individual pumpkin. They can be prepped for both sweet and savory dishes. There taste is very meaty like that of a common pumpkin. These pumpkins are extremely small and are just for individualized servings. Great for slicing roasting or baking whole. They give you a hefty dose of beta carotene, which is partially converted into vitamin A. Their flesh contains lots of fiber as well as vitamins C and E.
Cheese Pumpkins~ Sometimes called a Cinderella pumpkin. Amazingly enough these Heirloom Pumpkins are deep orange within, moderately sweet, earthy and savory once cooked. Their flesh is smooth and stringless which makes them great for soups, pies, muffins, cakes, or bread. Better yet they have a long storage life after harvest. Their seeds are great for drying and roasting. All pumpkins are known for containing a significant source of beta carotene which benefits your eyes and skin. They also contain more than ¼ of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A and tons of potassium. This pumpkin also has zero cholesterol and hardly any source of fat. In addition, a cup of this cooked pumpkin is less than 25 calories!
Red Kabocha Squash~ Kabocha squash is a Japanese winter squash that we have adapted to our culture. It is squat, like its green counterpart, and has faint white stripes running from top to bottom. It has a savory nutty flavor that makes soups and roasted squash a rave. You can substitute in recipes that call for pumpkin or butternut. It is also an excellent source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. It is a powerhouse of beta carotene, Contains lots of Vitamin A,C, Folic Acid, and Potassium. Kabocha squash also carries a good amount of other B-complex groups of vitamins like pyridoxine, thiamin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and minerals like copper, selenium, calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.
Mashed Potato Squash~ Is just a simple Nickname for this white hybrid Acorn Squash. As you look around at the farmer's market among all the colorful winter squashes, you might spot a stark white squash. It is perfect for mashed potatoes hence its' name mashed potato squash This squash resembles mashed potatoes when cooked and fluffed. They are high in Vitamin A and C and are a lower-carb source than potatoes.
Honeynut Squash~ Is a winter squash cultivar bred from butternut and buttercup squash. It has a similar shape and flavor to butternut squash but averages about half the size of a butternut and is significantly sweeter. It is wonderful roasted, grilled, cooked, pureed for soups, breads, pies, and muffins. It is extremely versatile in its preparation. Honeynut has about two to three times the amount of beta-carotene as butternut and is high in vitamin C.
Basic Storing and Handling Information for Winter Squash
Handling: The most difficult thing about winter squash is peeling it -even smooth-skinned varieties, such as butternut, can defeat many peelers. For acorn and other bumpy squash, you have no choice but to cook with the skin still on.
Storing: Winter squash will last 3-6 months stored at room temperature in a dry and cool (50-55 degrees) but not cold location.
Freezing: Cook the squash until soft, scoop out the flesh, pack in freezer containers, label, and place in the freezer.
Seeds: Wash, drain, remove strings from squash. They can be eaten raw or roasted and salted.