Cooking in Season // Butternut Squash

It’s this time of year when I really start to miss the fresh produce from my garden.  Winter has just started and it seems like such a long time until my garden will again be flourishing.  During these cold winter months it is as important as ever for us to get enough vegetables.  Winter squash can be a great vegetable to incorporate into your diet to make sure you are getting necessary nutrients.  In fact, it’s called winter squash because it can be harvested in the fall and reserved for use all winter long!   It is full of fiber, Vitamin A and C, as well as many antioxidants to keep your body healthy and strong.

Because of it’s thick skin, winter squash doesn’t bruise easily.  This is why it doesn’t spoil quickly and lasts such a long time.   Fifty degrees is the ideal storage temperature for winter squash.  When stored at fifty degrees some varieties of winter squash can last up to 6 months.  However, you want to avoid refrigerating it.  When stored below 40 degrees, like in the refrigerator, winter squash can cause “chilling injuries” which alter the flavor and texture of the vegetable.  If stored at temperatures warmer than 50 degrees, winter squash will usually last for 2-3 months.

Winter Squash Large

 

 

There are many different kinds of winter squash.  You can check out some of the different varieties by clicking here.

 

 

 

My favorite winter squash is butternut squash.  It has an especially tough rind.  The rind is edible, but most people like to remove it because it is so tough.  This squash can be a great substitute for sweet potatoes in many recipes.  It’s very versatile and can be roasted, pureed, or used in soups and stews.  

When selecting a butternut squash, look at the stem.  It should be firmly attached.  The squash should feel heavy in your hand.  Avoid choosing any squash that have wrinkly skin or cuts in the skin.  Although unprepared squash will store for several months, cut up pieces should be stored in the refrigerator and will last for about 5 days.

The same thick skin that keeps butternut squash from spoiling can also make it tough to prepare.  An easy way to remove the skin of the butternut squash is to cook it in your microwave for a few minutes before removing the skin.  First, poke several holes in the squash with a fork.  This allows built up pressure from steam inside the squash to escape so the squash doesn’t explode!  Next, slice the top and the bottom of the squash.  The top is the end where you can see the stem growing out.  The bottom is the opposite end.  Now, stick it in the microwave on high for 3-5 minutes.  This will soften the skin enough that it becomes easier to peel off with a knife or vegetable peeler.  With the skin removed, the squash is now ready for you to prepare however you would like.

Click here to check out these Top 10 Ways to Use Butternut Squash.

Here is a recipe for Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce for a new way to use Butternut Squash this winter season.  Enjoy!

Click on the recipe card for a printable version.

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– Candi

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