Winter Squash - A Rainbow of Colors
TEXARKANA, Ark. –
When you see winter squash, you may see the colors of the rainbow, including deep green, orange, russet and even chartreuse. Winter squash is a fruit worth getting to know for more than its decorative purpose. Instead of just admiring them for their beauty, get to know their names. Experiment with them in recipes and add beauty as well as taste to your winter table.
Winter squash are easy to prepare and, with the exception of spaghetti squash, most can be used interchangeably in recipes, although they may not all taste alike.
The flesh, textures, aromas and flavors vary as widely as their colors and shapes. Spices that work well with most includes: nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, curry and sage. Most squash can be baked, boiled, mashed, pureed, steamed, simmered, or stuffed.
Some common varieties that you will find in local supermarkets and farmers markets include acorn, butternut, hubbard, Turkish turbin and spaghetti squash. Let’s look at them closer.
Acorn squash, is small, dark green and acorn-shaped with deep ridges. The deep seed cavity is ideal for stuffing. An average-size acorn squash is just the right size for two people. The dark green shell changes to orange during storage. It’s probably the most popular and familiar winter squash.
Butternut squash is pear shaped with a long neck. It’s smooth, thin, light tan skin is easy to peel. The interior orange flesh has a fine texture and sweet flavor. It cooks quickly and is excellent for baking. They weigh from one-half to 3 pounds.
Hubbard squash has a large football-shape. It has hard, thick, lumpy skin and may weigh as much as 20 pounds. Skin color may be deep or pale green, blue, or orange. Its shape is fat, with a round middle and tapered ends. The deep orange flesh has a smooth texture, rich flavor, and is very high in vitamin A.
Turkish Turban is a colorful squash, having bright orange rind with deep green, white and yellow splashes. It looks like a flattened pumpkin and is attractive baked whole.
Spaghetti is oval shaped, pale yellow, with flesh that comes out in spaghetti-like strings when cooked. Blimp-shaped spaghetti squash makes a great substitute for pasta. This is the only squash that cannot be used interchangeably with others in most recipes, due to its unique strands.
When choosing squash to prepare, it should be heavy for its size and the rinds should feel thick and hard with no soft spots. Tender skin indicates it was picked too soon. If it’s lightweight, it indicates that the insides have begun to dry out. Rinds should be dull, not shiny.
Plan to include winter squash in your menu. Try a new recipe such as Baked Butternut Squash with Apples and Maple Syrup. It is loaded in fiber with the squash, apples, and currants, plus is sweetened by natural maple syrup. Your family may enjoy it so much, you will want to include it in your Thanksgiving menu.
For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaHaleyHadley, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.uada.edu/Miller.
Baked Butternut Squash with Apples and Maple Syrup
2 3/4 pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium), peeled, quartered lengthwise, seeded, cut crosswise into one-fourth inch thick slices (about 6 cups)
2 pounds medium-size Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, cored, cut crosswise into one-fourth inch thick slices (about 6 cups)
3/4 cup dried currants
freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook squash in large pot of boiling water until almost tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Combine squash, apples and currants in 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish. Season generously with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Combine maple syrup, butter and lemon juice in heavy small saucepan. Whisk over low heat until butter melts. Pour syrup over squash mixture and toss to coat evenly.
Bake until squash and apples are tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Cool 5 minutes. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover with foil; chill. Rewarm covered in 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes.)
By Carla Haley-Hadley
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
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