Squash - Not Just a Summer Vegetable
Butternut squash a Fall and Winter favorite.
Nashville, Ark. – Everyone loves summer squash, whether it is zucchini or the familiar yellow crookneck. While these favorites are no longer in abundance in our gardens, you may have noticed other squashes appearing at our local grocery stores. Butternut squash is a fall and winter favorite. While it may be overlooked, it is a great vegetable because it is packed with nutrients, and it is tasty and versatile.
Butternut squash actually fruit!
Butternut squash is actually a fruit according to classification, but it is used as a vegetable or side dish in most meals. They are a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. In fact, one cup of butternut squash has less than 40 calories, zero fat, 1 g of protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and is extremely low in sodium. Squash is high in beta-carotene, which our bodies use to make vitamin A and the mineral potassium. Winter squash has shown potential in cancer prevention.
Butternut squash are easily recognizable by their bell shape and tan color. When choosing butternut squash, pick ones that are heavy for their size. Avoid squash that have moist, black or shriveled stems. They should be a deep tan in color without green streaks. The stem should have a dry corky surface.
How to prepare your fall and winter squash
Butternut squash, and other winter squashes, can be roasted, baked, sauteed, boiled, microwaved and made into a variety of tasty soups and casseroles. They do have a very tough skin and firm flesh. To prepare them for cooking, trim off the stem end and bottom of the squash. Peel off the skin with a sharp knife, including the green layer just beneath the skin. Cut the squash in half just where it starts to bulge. Use a spoon to remove the seeds. The upper part of the squash is solid and just needs to be peeled and cubed.
Their seeds can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds for a tasty snack. Simple rinse and dry the seeds on a paper towel, then toss them with 1 teaspoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Spread them out on a lightly oiled baking sheet and put in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may want to add other spices including curry powder or a seasoned herb blend. Allow them to cool and enjoy!
Storing your squash
Store butternut squash in a cool place (50 to 55°F with low humidity). Safely stored, they will last for 3 to 6 months. Store them at room temperature, unwashed. You can freeze them. Wash and cut them into cooking-size sections and remove the seeds. Cook until soft in boiling water, pressure cooker, steam or in the oven. When soft, remove pulp. Cool, then pack the pulp into freezer-safe containers or bags, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Label and date before freezing. Squash is not recommended for pressure canning.
Other fun facts about winter squashes include:
- Squash is an incredibly old food plant, dating back to at least 8,000 B.C.
- Squash is in Cucurbitaceae family, which includes cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and gourds.
- Squash comes from the Narragansett Native American word “askutasquash,” translated roughly to “eaten raw or uncooked.”
- Squash was originally grown in Central Mexico, Peru, and the Eastern U.S.
Now is the time to start adding this versatile vegetable to your dinner table. Consider trying them as a side dish or in a soup. For more information on preparing butternut squash, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Recipe of the Week
This recipe was featured at the recent Extension Homemaker training, “Semi-Homemade Cooking” which highlighted easy holiday foods. Extension Homemakers are volunteer clubs that focus on education, leadership, and community service. There are currently 4 clubs in the county. EHC is open to anyone. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
Sugar and Spice Butternut Squash
2 packages (8 oz.) prepared cut butternut squash
½ cup cranberry-walnut salad dressing
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
In a bowl, stir together squash, salad dressing, melted butter, brown sugar and cayenne pepper until well combined.
Transfer to baking sheet. Bake in prepared oven for 20 to 30 minutes or just until tender.
By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.