All About Winter Squash

Cooler evenings lead to crisp mornings and before you know it, it’s fall, time for our favorite Michigan fall produce in all their crazy shapes and sizes. With Michigan ranking third in fresh winter squash production in the U.S. you know Vince and Joe’s will have an abundance of all kinds of squashes from the smallest gourds to the biggest of pumpkins. In fact more than 136 million pounds of squash are produced each year in Michigan.

Squash are also one of the oldest cultivated crops in the Western Hemisphere and although most think of them as vegetables, squash are really fruits of the Cucurbita genus. Since they grow from a flower and have seeds inside they are considered a fruit.

These crazy shaped fruits have nutritional benefits including high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene, magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamins and antioxidants.

Vince and Joe’s buys from local farms to bring you the best selection of Michigan winter squashes starting in September.

Winter squash, properly stored in a cool dry place (50-60 degrees F), can last up to three months. Storing squash in a cool but dark pantry, cabinet or shelf is best.

Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Hubbard, Pumpkin and Spaghetti squash are common types of winter squash. Usually larger than summer squash, winter squash have a thick outer rind you’ll need to carefully inspect for sunken or moldy spots.

One of the biggest challenges to cooking with winter squash is its tough outer rind. The microwave can soften it easily in just a minute or two so it can be cut in half. Be sure to wash the squash before cutting. Cut off the stem first with a large knife. Pierce the rind a few times with a knife or fork and place in the microwave for a few minutes to soften. Use a spoon to scrape the seeds and fibers out from the inside cavity. Once the seeds are removed the squash become the perfect sized bowl to stuff or remove the rind to cube it for cooking.

Use them in soups, steamed, stuffed, roasted or even baked in pies, breads, muffins or cookies. Steamed or roasted pieces of squash can be tossed with olive oil and flavored with soy sauce and ginger. And the stringy flesh of spaghetti squash is the perfect substitute for pasta noodles served with your favorite sauce. Squash is also delicious pureed, served with butter, salt and pepper or sweetened with cinnamon and maple syrup. Add some pumpkin puree to your chocolate chip cookie recipe and see just how delicious squash can be.