<< Back to website
 
All About…
… Apples
… Asparagus
… Carrots
… Garlic
… Herbs
… Maple Syrup
… Potatoes
… Winter Squash
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
© Antigo Farmers' Market, Inc.
Antigo, Wisconsin
 
 
All about Winter Squash
   
For most people, the beginning of the New Year serves as a reminder that after the opulent meals during the holidays it is time to return to a more basic, yet nutritious diet.
In contrast to summer squash, e.g. zucchini, a delicate fruit, which is eaten within days of harvest, winter squash can be kept for an extended period of time during winter, provided it is properly cured and stored. It therefore provides a timely subject for this article.
History
Squash is indigenous to the Western hemisphere. Pre-Columbian Americans had been using squash as a food source for as much as 8,000 years. From their Central American origins squash plants were propagated throughout North America. The name stems from the Narragansett “asquutasquash” and means “eaten raw”, possibly referring to the seeds.
   

In North America, squash was traditionally grown by Native American groups in combination with corn (maize) and climbing beans, also referred to as the “Three Sisters”.
< Three Sisters as featured on the reverse of the 2009 Native American U.S. dollar coin.

The three crops are planted close together and benefit from each other, a concept nowadays known as companion planting. The corn provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans add nitrogen to the soil that the other plants utilize. The squash spreads along the ground, cooling it by blocking sunlight, preventing establishment of weeds and retain moisture in the soil. Pests are deterred by the prickly vines.

This growing practice is not widely used in commercial settings, but many home gardeners have again successfully adopted this method.

There are dozens of squash varieties. The most common and widely available winter squash varieties are:
Acorn
Buttercup
Butternut
Hubbard
Kabocha
Spaghetti
Turban
To name just a few.

Storage
The thick, leathery skin of ripe winter squash makes it possible to store this product for several weeks after harvest. However some precautions should be taken.
Place whole winter squash on top of thick pads of newspaper in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location, preferably between 45 and 50 degrees.
Check regularly for rot and use within 3-6 months.
Cooked squash freezes well.
Nutrition
Winter squash is a powerhouse of nutrients, readily available during the winter months and offers a large variety of delicious recipes.
It is a low-calorie, good source of complex vegetable carbohydrates and dietary fiber. It is an excellent source of vitamin A; a good source of vitamin C, potassium and manganese as well as folate, omega 3 fatty acids and other essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Together with its other “sibling”, beans, in the Three Sister trio, it also provides a complete protein, important in a vegetarian diet.
It’s time to put all this knowledge to use
Because as Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust proclaims:
“Grau, lieber Freund, ist alle Theorie”
(All theory, dear friend, is grey).

Let’s cook!
Winter Squash Bisque
Oven roasted squash vegetable mix
Baked Acorn Squash