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Winter Squash Varieties

Squash Acorn1
Squash Acorn
Acorn Squash

Winter squashes are best from early fall through winter.

Winter squashes are drier, more fibrous, and much sweeter than summer squashes. The thick, hard shells of winter squashes can not be eaten, but the shells add to the period these squashes can be stored—ranging from 30 to 180 days.

In addition to the sweet flesh which becomes creamy when cooked, the seeds of winter squash can be washed, dried, and roasted either salted or plain.

Winter squash varieties for cooking:

Acorn: somewhat oval and acorn-shaped with a ribbed, dark green skin and orange flesh. The flesh is tender and fine-textured with a flavor that hints of hazelnuts and pepper. To prepare, remove the seeds and bake. You can eat this one directly from the shell. This variety keeps fro 30 to 50 days.

Buttercup: a variety of turban winter squash. It ranges in size from 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm) in diameter and from 2 to 3 inches (5-7.5 cm) tall. It has a light blue-gray turban crown with a dark green shell flecked with gray. The flesh is orange and tastes a bit like sweet potato. This squash can be baked, steamed, or simmered. This buttercup will weigh about 3 pounds (1.4 kg) and can be stored for about 1 month.

Butternut squash
Butternut squash

Butternut: large, cylindrical to pear-shaped from 8 to 12 inches (20-30 cm) long and 3 to 5 inches (7.5-13 cm) in diameter. This winter squash can weigh from 2 to 3 pounds (.9-1.4 kg). The color of its skin ranges from yellow to camel. The finely textured flesh is sweet and deep orange. You can bake, steam, or simmer this squash. Avoid this squash if it has a greenish skin.

Hubbard: oval to round squash with a thick rind ranging in color from dark green to gray-blue or orange-red. This squash has a dry, grainy texture and a yellow-orange flesh. The Hubbard is less sweet than other winter squashes. It is best boiled or baked and can be mashed or puréed. It will store for up to 6 months.

Spaghetti: the spaghetti squash is also called vegetable squash. This watermelon-shaped squash has a skin colored creamy-yellow. The spaghetti squash gets its name from its yellow-gold flesh which separates into spaghetti-like strands when cooked. This squash will average from 4 to 8 pounds (1.8-3.7 kg). It will store at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. After this squash is baked, the strands can be served with sauce just like pasta.

Turban: this is a family of winter squashes which includes the buttercup squash. At the blossom end, this squash looks like a turban. Turban squashes range in size from 2 to 15 inches (5-76 cm) in diameter at the base. The skin colors vary from bright hues of orange, green, and yellow. The flesh is fine-textured and very sweet with a hazelnut flavor. Turban squashes can be baked, steamed, or simmered.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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