Feed Your Family For £20...In A Hurry! The Cookbook

A guide to winter squash

With a dozen common varieties readily available, choosing a winter squash to prepare can be confusing for a lot of home cooks so here is a quick guide! 

Winter squash are harvested late summer through autumn, then “cured” or “hardened off” in the open air to toughen their skin. This process ensures the squash will keep for months without refrigeration. To check for the best quality squash the skin should be thick and matt not shiny and the stem should be dry and almost fibrous!

Here are some varieties you may see in the shops just now

ACORNTexture: fibrous, quite firm
Taste: mellow, sweet
Eating: steamed, mashed, used in soup, roasted. Try grating and sautéing in olive oil
Edible Skin: yes – don’t try to peel, quarter just and roast with skin on
Edible Seeds: yes, roasted
Info: It’s called an acorn squash because it looks like an acorn!
BABY BEARBaby bear_pumpkinTexture: rich, dense, fleshy, moist
Taste: mellow, sweet, nutty
Eating: great in soup, roasted, in pie and puddings
Edible Skin: no, it’s tough
Edible Seeds: yes, raw or roasted
Info: retain shell & use as a soup serving bowl
BLUE KURITexture: rich, quite dry
Taste: deep, nutty
Eating: delicious in soups, roasted, baked
Edible Skin: yes, when roasted
Edible Seeds: yes, raw or roasted
Info: it becomes moister the longer it’s stored – keeps really well for up to 6 months
BUTTERNUTTexture: satisfyingly firm
Taste: sweet, rich, versatile – can be used in sweet or savoury recipes
Eating: roasted, in soups, purees and pies
Edible Skin: yes if roasted, but quite easy to peel
Edible Seeds: edible, best roasted
Info: keeps well for several months, turning darker orange over time
CELEBRATIONCelebration squashTexture: firm, tender
Taste: mellow; hint of sweet potato
Eating: roast, bake (stuffed), puree
Edible Skin: no
Edible Seeds: edible, best roasted
Info: aka ‘Carnival’ Squash, a hybrid of ‘Delicata’ and ‘Acorn’ Squash
CROWN PRINCECrown prince squashTexture: rich, dense
Taste: rich, sweet, nutty
Eating: roast, grill, saute, soup
Edible Skin: yes, medium toughness
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: longest-storing squash (up to 3 months in the right conditions)
FESTIVALTexture: quite solid and rich
Taste: sweet and nutty
Eating: baked and roasted
Edible Skin: yes when roasting and baking
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: stores well, with a beautiful skin that adds warmth to the winter table
GEMGem squashTexture: smooth and creamy when cooked
Taste: sweeter than most; nutty
Eating: baked, stuffed, boiled
Edible Skin: yes, tender when cooked
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: related to butternuts & pumpkins
GREEN HOKKAIDOTexture: quite tough skin with dense golden flesh
Taste: strong and sweet
Eating: baked, roasted, braised, pureed, stuffed and steamed – very versatile
Edible Skin: yes, when baked or roasted
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: Grows well even in wet British summers!
GOLD NUGGETGold nugget squashTexture: firm, moist, smooth
Taste: pleasant nutty sweetness
Eating: bake whole or halved, roast
Edible Skin: yes, but tough
Edible Seeds: edible, best roasted
Info: aka ‘Oriental Squash’
SMALL PUMPKINSTexture: slightly ribbed, quite thick skin with fine, pulpy interior
 sweet, versatile
Eating: baked, roasted, braised, pureed, in pies, stuffed, steamed, used in soup
Edible Skin: yes if roasted
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: too good just for Halloween – try and use the flesh you scoop out for soups and purees.
SPAGHETTISpaghetti squashTexture: stranded fleshy pulp 
 very mild, use as a base
Eating: best baked, roast, steam
Edible Skin: no
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: contrary to most other varieties, larger ones are more flavourful than the smaller ones
TURK’S TURBANTurks Turban squashTexture: firm
Taste: mellow sweetness; hazelnut
Eating: roast, steam, soup, stew
Edible Skin: no
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: keeps well
UCHIKI OR RED KURIUchiki Kuri squashTexture: firm, buttery
Taste: mellow sweetness; chestnut
Eating: soup, puree, cakes, bread
Edible Skin: yes
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: aka Japanese or Onion squash
WINTER SWEETTexture: flaky, chunky
Taste: sweet and deep
Eating: bakes and roasts well. Lovely in soups, purees, cakes and bread
Edible Skin: yes
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: keeps well and improves over time, so it makes a good late winter variety.

Any of these squash can be subbed in for butternut squash in any of the recipes here on the website xx Lorna xx

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