Although the name would have you think otherwise, winter squash grows throughout the summer months and is ready for harvesting around September or October. Unlike their thinner-skinned summer squash cousins, which are best picked and consumed when they are relatively immature, winter squashes are harvested at full maturity. At that point, rinds are thickened, and colors are deep and rich.

Those thick skins are what make all the difference between summer and winter varieties. When stored under the proper conditions — in a cool, dry area at 50 degrees — winter squash can be kept upwards of six months. Even in less-than-ideal conditions, like just laying around on your countertop, they can last a good two to three months.

The Farmers’ Almanac says that squash — which comes from the Indigenous Narragansett word askutasquah — meaning eaten raw or uncooked —

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is one of the oldest crops known to mankind. Although typically prepared as a vegetable, squash is technically a fruit, as it contains internal seeds and develops from the flower of a plant.

Squash is versatile, able to be served simply by roasting and seasoning lightly with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, or jazzed-up and used in creations bursting with other flavors like soups, stews, and stir fries. Pass through the produce section of your favorite grocery store and you’re sure to spot an eye-catching assortment of winter squash of various shapes, colors, and sizes. Once you get past the more popular varieties of acorn, butternut, and spaghetti, there’s a wonderland of winter squash to sample. Here we share some of these lesser-known types like carnival, delicata, hubbard, kabocha, red kuri, sweet dumpling, and turban, as well as a favorite recipe for a hearty hash shared by Moonshine Ink publisher Mayumi Elegado. 

Delicata: The skin of the delicata is a bit thinner than its other winter counterparts, so it might not have quite as long of a shelf life. But that thin skin also makes it perfect for eating. Slice one of these in half, scoop out the seeds, stuff it with your filling of choice, and pop it in the oven. Slicing it up and baking it with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar, or maple syrup enhances its natural sweetness.

#7 Hurry-Up Hearty Hash

1/2 cup leeks or chives, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup almond flour

2 cups winter squash or pumpkin, cooked and mashed
2 Tbs. coconut oil

1 egg
Combine all ingredients. Form into patties. If dry, add water. If too moist, add additional flour to desired consistency. Fry in lightly oiled skillet until nicely browned on both sides. Hint: Save leftovers for tomorrow’s breakfast or freeze for future use.

~ Recipe by nutritional consultant Lindsay Rojas of Traditional Roots Nutrition, based in Truckee. Info: traditionalrootsnutrition.com.


 

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