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Is It A Decoration? Is It Food? The Many Uses and Types of Fall and Winter Squash

Cutting board with spatula, peeler, grater, vegetable brush, chef knife Chase Baillie ©2020, Clemson Extension

Cutting board with spatula, peeler, grater, vegetable brush, chef knife
Chase Baillie ©2020, Clemson Extension

I don’t know about you, but I love a product that can be used in a variety of ways and has staying power, especially in the home and kitchen. I recently discovered fall/winter squash and the varieties and versatility that they provide. I knew about the typical winter squash that you see in the grocery store like Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti, Pumpkins, and decorative gourds, but have been introduced to other varieties like Honey Nut, Kabocha, Carnival, Turban, Banana, Red Kuri, Sweet Dumpling, and Buttercup.

There are many advantages to experimenting with and incorporating the approximately 14 varieties of fall and winter squash into your kitchen rotation. When stored properly, they can keep up to 4 weeks (for varieties like the softer skinned Delicata) and 6-8 months (for the Blue Pumpkin or Hubbard squash), allowing you to take your time deciding how many ways you want to use them. Since they are often available in SC from late summer through late winter, you can use them to decorate a holiday table and then cook them up for a yummy side dish. Or, if you aren’t quite ready to try your hand at cooking, they make great canvases for art projects and can be used as décor.

Blue pumpkin, Cinderella pumpkins, Chase Baillie ©2020, Clemson Extension

Blue pumpkin, Cinderella pumpkins,
Chase Baillie ©2020, Clemson Extension

Decorating an entrance with a teal door Chase Baillie ©2020 Clemson Extension

Decorating an entrance with a teal door.
Chase Baillie ©2020 Clemson Extension

The great things about fall and winter squash are:

  1. Almost all of the at least 14 varieties (except spaghetti squash) are interchangeable for each other in recipes.
  2. Many can be eaten raw but are often baked, peeled, roasted, or steamed and then diced, cut, and mashed, to be used as side dishes or casseroles; or pureed for use in pies and soups.
  3. Flavor profiles in preparation can be sweet with sugar, cinnamon, dried fruits, and other warm spices, or savory with cheeses, proteins, brown butter, sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, fennel, etc.
  4. They can be used for nutrition, multi-season décor, or both, and they can last for months, making them a multipurpose super vegetable.
White and gold tablecloth with butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and honey nut squash, orange, onion and pomegranate Chase Baillie ©2020 Clemson Extension

White and gold tablecloth with butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and honey nut squash, orange, onion and pomegranate
Chase Baillie ©2020 Clemson Extension

So, the next time you are at the market, be on the look-out for a variety of fall and winter squashes, take them home and see how many ways you can put them to good use either in or out of the kitchen.

For more information and recipes check out these other great HGIC documents:

Mashed Butternut Squash

HGIC 4228 Using & Storing Winter Squash

HGIC 3281 Preserving Pumpkin & Winter Squash

Revising Your Recipes for Health …. And How to Make Your Spaghetti Extra Nutritious!

Pumpkin Muenster Grits

Homemade Baby Food

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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