Winter Squash Facts
Acorn Squash Recipes
Acorn squash is a winter squash. Winter squash, members of the Cucurbitaceae family and relatives of both the melon and the cucumber, come in many different varieties.
They all have hard protective skins that are difficult to pierce and gives them a long storage life of up to 6 months. They also have a hollow inner seed containing cavity. The acorn squash variety grown on the Ambrose Family Farm is dark green in color with a golden inside.
Acorn squash are rich in Vitamin A, and are also a good source of vitamins C and B6. They are rich in phytonutrients, which help the body get rid of toxins and may help prevent cancer. They are also rich in dietary fiber, folate, beta-carotene and potassium.
Storage and Handling
Most winter squash can be stored in a warm dry area with good air circulation. Acorn squash is the only one that will require a cooler, moister environment. If you plan on using your squash within a week or two from harvesting, you can store it in the refrigerator. Be careful not to keep it in there too long or it will cause the outer skin to moisten and rot. To keep longer, store in a dry area at about 50 degrees.
To prepare, simply cut in half, clean out the seeds and bake for about an hour. For an easy meal, fill the space in the middle with anything that you like.
Delicata Squash Recipes
Delicata squash is a nice mild tasting and delicious squash. The following recipes will give you an idea of how to use it. You can substitute other winter squash in these recipes if you wish. Delicata will store at room temperature for about 4 weeks.
TIPS AND HINTS
* Picking the best squash*
Picking winter squash is somewhat similar to picking melons. That is, it's usually harder than choosing other varieties of vegetables or fruit because physical damage is somewhat less evident on the outside. As a general rule, the skin should be fairly hard and dull without soft areas or cracks, and the heavier the squash the tastier and moister it will be.
* Storing squash*
Squash don't have to be refrigerated unless cut. Store them in a dry place at room temperature and they should last for several weeks. If you do cut them, make sure to wrap them in plastic or foil and store them in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
* Cooking squash*
Winter squash, like their summer counterparts, can be eaten raw. As a matter of fact, the term squash itself derives from the Narragansett Indian word askootasquash that means something along the lines of "food eaten raw." However, the sweet, satisfying flavor and the soft, luscious texture we've learned to correlate with squash comes from cooking it –– whether we choose to bake it, steam, it or sauté it. You don't need to peel squash before cooking it, as the skin will usually soften with intense heat and come off more easily.
To bake squash, all types of squash, cut them in half lengthwise, scoop the seeds out and place them on a baking pan with the open side facing down. And don't forget to season them! You can opt for any seasoning you wish: from a little olive oil with salt and pepper to a sweeter butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon combo. Place them in the oven at 400 degrees and let cook for 40 minutes to 1 hour and a half, depending on size and texture. You really want your squash to caramelize to eliminate excess moisture and release its natural sugars. Once out of the oven, scoop out the pulp and use it to make soups, purées, sauces, pie fillings and other wonderful preparations. Just pick a good recipe!
The procedure for steaming squash is similar to baking it, but requires the addition of about 1/2 inch of water to the bottom of the baking pan. Steaming will not allow for the same degree of caramelization that baking produces, but is often required for a subtler flavor.
There's no reason why winter squash can't be treated like summer varieties: simply cut into small pieces and sautéed in a hot skillet with a little oil or butter. To do so, heat your favorite type of cooking fat in a skillet, add the cut up squash and cook over medium-high until the flesh is tender and the skin has softened. Season with salt and pepper and your sautéed squash is ready to be served as a side dish or a garnish on soups. As a variant to sautéing, squash can be pan-fried. Peel it and cut it into thin slices or strips. Heat some good cooking oil, enough to come about one inch up the side of the pan. Toss in the slices and cook for a few minutes, until slightly crispy. These will make an unusual and tasty garnish.