The best time to eat winter squash is October through November. Although they can be found year round in grocery stores, these yummy fruits (yes, they are technically fruit) are best when in season and, if possible, bought at a farmers market.
You can find close to three dozen types of winter squash, some more common than others. Butternut, acorn, kabocha, and spaghetti squash are some of the most well known, but the lesser known, like hubbard, banana, turban, or buttercup squash are real gems to find. Not counting spaghetti squash, most types of winter squash can be used interchangeably.
When choosing winter squash, opt for squash that has firm skin with no blemishes and feels heavy for its size.
After purchase, winter squash can last anywhere from one week to one month or sometimes longer if stored correctly. Store winter squash away from direct light and in a cool, dry place. Once cooked, store leftover squash in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic wrap or an airtight container for up to three to four days.
Before you begin to prepare winter squash for cooking, wash the outside in cool water. Then depending on the recipe, you have a few different options for preparation. You can slice squash in half to take out the seeds and stringy part in the center. You can bake it whole, cut in half, then remove the seeds and insides. You may also peel and dice, discarding the seeds and stringy insides. To peel or not to peel? Follow the recipe instructions. If a recipe calls for peeling before cooking, microwave the squash for 2 to 3 minutes to soften the skin so it is easier to remove with a peeler or sharp knife.
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