The general winter squash category makes for some truly delicious fall and winter eating. From the classic butternut to the more unfamiliar black futsu, winter squash come in a multitude of varieties and are eaten the world over. With varied hues of orange and yellow and toothsome nutty and sweet flavors, it's no question why we love winter squash!
Planted back in late May or early June, these plants have been chugging along quite merrily out in the field. A relatively low-maintenance crop, winter squash put out a high reward in the end.
Called winter squash due to their long storage capabilities, it's the hard rind and dense flesh that allow us to harvest them in September and still be eating them in January and beyond. After harvest, they go through a step called "curing" which means keeping them in a warm (80-85 degrees) place for about a week. This helps to harden their skin, seal off any minor cuts or scrapes, and concentrate the sweetness.
In case you're a winter squash novice or just excited to try a new variety, I hope this blog provides some enlightenment. Below is a quick overview of the varieties we offer, how to store them properly, and some recipes to enjoy them all season long!
For all of our winter squash varieties, the best way to store them is actually NOT in the fridge! Since they've been cured, they do best in a cool, dry, dark place; below 70 degrees is good, 50-55 is best. If your basement runs cool, that's perfect. Perhaps you have an enclosed porch that doesn't get heated in the winter. As long as they don't freeze, the squash will be happy. If you only get around to using half of a squash, store the remainder in your fridge.
OK, first and probably most familiar, we have butternut squash. These ubiquitous squash are a common grocery store staple and can be cooked up in a wide range of recipes. The creamy tan flesh isn't particularly thick, but unlike a few others on our list, we don't recommend eating it. But, since it's relatively thin, a regular peeler should do the trick. Butternut makes a wonderfully creamy pureed soup and is also great cubed and roasted in the oven.
Secondly we have one called Autumn Frost that matures to have a beautiful white bloom on the outside, looking a little bit like frost! Similar in flavor and texture to butternut, this squash boasts superior storage capabilities. This one is also better peeled before eating, though if the curvy ridges seem intimidating just cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast as is. Then when it's time to eat, you can easily scoop out the flesh to have as a side with butter and salt or puree into a soup or sauce.
Black Futsu is next. This is a squash that I've actually never eaten before, so we'll experiment with something new together this year! These little guys are round and more classically pumpkin-shaped. What makes them stand out is their bumpy, warty skin. Deeply textured, black futsu would make for a standout fall decoration if they weren't so good for eating! And lucky for us, the skin on these squash is thin and perfectly edible. So just wash, chop, and you're off to the races for a delicious dinner.
And last but never least, my favorite, delicata! These long, slim, stripy squash are yet another pretty addition to your counter and even better addition to your plate with their sweet and nutty flavor. Joining the no-peel club, delicata skin is so tender and thin that these are our shortest storing winter squash. Unlike the other four above, delicata don't actually require curing and are ready to eat right after harvest. Members: this is why you're receiving delicata now while our other varieties hold tight in storage. Enjoy it while you can, it is (in my opinion) the best! There are some delectable recipes below, but even just simply chopped and roasted in the oven with olive oil and salt will make you a delicata convert.
So go forth and eat winter squash! Have fun experimenting with all the different ways to cook and enjoy this wonderfully sweet vegetable and let us know if you have any winter squash questions.