Know your Squash

Know your Squash - Introduction

Turban, Sweet Dumpling, Carnival, Gold Acorn, Delicata, Buttercup and Golden Nugget squashes
  • Squash is commonly divided into two main categories: Summer squash and winter squash. 
  • This is not a biological classification, but rather division on the basis of when the vegetable is harvested—in other words, whether the squash is immature or mature. 
  • Both summer and winter squash can be of any of the four squash species. 
  • Summer squash is most commonly associated with C. pepo, but winter squash is common among all four species.

Know your Squash - Summer squash

Petit pan squash
  • Summer squash is the category that includes those squash harvested during the growing season, while the skin is still tender and the fruit relatively small. 
  • They have soft seeds and thin, edible skins, and tender flesh with a high water content. 
  • Summer squash is very perishable and may last only five days even when refrigerated in a plastic bag. 
  • They are consumed almost immediately after harvesting and require little or no cooking. 
  • They're usually separated into yellow, straight or crookneck varieties; scallop-shaped "petit pan" fruits; or round, softball-sized types. 
  • Summer squash grow fast, usually maturing within 2 months of planting, and continue to produce all season long. 
  • They are prolific, reliable producers, but they don't store well, so use them right away.

Know your Squash - Winter squash

  • Winter squash is the category for those squash harvested at maturity, generally the end of summer, cured to further harden the skin, and stored in a cool place for eating later. 
  • Winter squash have thick and hard seeds and skin, and flesh that is firmer. 
  • Winter squash, protected by its hard skin, can be stored much longer and does not require refrigeration, lasting a month or more in a cool dark place depending on the variety. 
  • They generally require longer cooking time than summer squashes. 
  • Winter varieties include butternut, Hubbard, buttercup, ambercup, acorn, and spaghetti squash.
  • The image right is of butternut squash, a great favourite in England.
  • Most winter squashes are vine-type plants whose fruits are harvested when fully mature. 
  • They can be stored for months in a cool storeroom-hence the name "winter" squash.