Winter's Plenty

Share this post

By Heidi Lewis

The bounty of winter squash includes a fabulous array of colors, textures, and shapes. Just like the American population, they have an international palette of names, such as delicata, turban, Hubbard, Hokkaido, carnival, and butternut. Named for outstanding characteristics or in homage—for example, the turban squash mimics the shape of the familiar headdress, and the Hubbard is thought to be named after Elizabeth Hubbard, who purportedly distributed the seeds in the mid-19th century—there are 350 known varieties of squash, falling into two general camps of summer and winter.

The term “winter” squash is a cultural definition for hard-skinned squash that keep for months, as opposed to thin-skinned "summer” squash, such as zucchini or crookneck, that have to be eaten fresh. Winter squash is an important category of produce that dates back to a time when our survival depended on what could be stored. Representing several species within gourd family genus Cucurbita, winter squash offer up a visually stunning cast of characters, from smooth-skinned orbs to some reminiscent of colorful Dale Chihuly sculptures.

One of the world’s oldest cultivated foods, evidence of squash consumption has been found in 10,000-year-old caves and dwellings of ancient Mesoamerica. From there it spread to the rest of the world where each culture refined its own unique squash expressions. The bumpy, alligator-skinned Marina De Chioggia squash hails from Italy, the Cinderella coach–looking Musquée de Provence comes from France, and the chestnut-flavored Red Kuri and Kabocha are from Japan. The hard shells of winter squash and gourds have been used as scoops, bowls, and even musical instruments.

Preparation: The skin of most winter squash is hard to peel: use a sharp knife to carefully cut it in halves or quarters, scoop out the seeds (which can also be washed and roasted), and roast, steam, or sauté until soft. Squash can be used in soups, salads, sautés, fritters, purees, and, of course, in pies.

Storage: Keep squash where it can be admired for its beauty. Store at room temperature out of direct sunlight, and don’t let it get moist. Use within 2–3 weeks.


Subscribe to the WEEKLY BITE

* indicates required


Recent Food articles:

Two Easy Recipes for Canning Stone Fruit
June 25, 2019
The health benefits of honeydew melon
June 20, 2019
The delicate flavors of white peaches and nectarines
June 13, 2019
Onions, garlic, and leeks provide many nutritional benefits
May 30, 2019
History of the tomato
April 18, 2019
How to prepare Ataulfo mango
April 4, 2019
Making the most of citrus season
February 14, 2019
Three hearty soup recipes you can enjoy all month
February 4, 2019
Tempting winter fruits to brighten your weekly mix
January 31, 2019
Easy meal prep recipes you can eat all week
January 7, 2019

More recent articles:

Assumptions can harm both recruiters and job seekers
July 16, 2019
Simple summer salad dressing recipes
July 11, 2019
Summer fruit varieties and when you’ll be seeing them
July 9, 2019
Easy summer pasta recipe
July 4, 2019
How to create a dress code that works all year
July 2, 2019
More employers are getting serious about time off
June 27, 2019
Don’t let plantar fasciitis pain break your stride
June 11, 2019
How to make stone fruit jams and butters
June 6, 2019
Listen and learn something new about work life—wherever you are
June 4, 2019
Five reasons to consider this extreme endurance event
May 28, 2019

About Us

Our online magazine offers a taste of workplace culture, trends, and healthy living. It features recipes for easy, delicious work meals and tips on quick office workouts. It's also an opportunity to learn about our GoodWorks program, which helps those in need in our communities and supports small, sustainable farms.