December Harvest of the Month: Winter Squash

Winter squash is part of the gourd family, there are several varieties:

Tips

  • To ease prep, cook winter squash in its skin whenever possible.
  • To make peeling easier, halve or quarter winter squash.
  • Save the seeds—toss with olive oil and salt, then bake at 375°F for 20 minutes.
  • Sweet potatoes can be replaced by winter squash in many recipes.

Selection

To select a fully-ripe squash at the peak of its flavor, look for firm, dull- colored skin. A fully-ripe squash will be heavy for its size. If the squash is too young, the skin will be shiny and the flesh less flavorful; if it is too old, the skin will be crinkled and the flesh fibrous.

Storage

  • Winter storage: Remove all dirt and leave on a portion of the stem. Store out of the sunlight, between 50-60°F, with good ventilation. Depending on the variety, winter squash can be stored between 1-6 months.
  • Refrigerate winter squash only if it has been cut or cooked.
  • To freeze: Cook and purée, then place in a labeled and dated freezer-grade bag.

Kid Friendly Eating Tips

  • Make it savory: cube, add olive oil, your favorite dried herb, salt and pepper, then roast; add to a salad, taco, rice dish, omelet or mac and cheese.
  • Make it sweet: slice, add olive oil, maple syrup and/or cinnamon.
  • Halve squashes, roast upside down, then add a stuffing.
  • Purée roasted squash for a soup or pie!

Activity Ideas

  • Guess the number of seeds in different varieties of squash.
  • Taste test roasted winter squash with various seasonings, such as, dried basil, oregano or rosemary, maple syrup and cinnamon.

Recipes

Info from NH Harvest of the Month