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Ask a Foodie: Is Butternut a Summer or Winter Squash?

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Q. I thought butternut was a winter squash but I have two in my CSA share this week and it is certainly not winter.  I’m confused. — A.B.

A.
Good question. Because most squashes are available year-round we find out from whatscookingamerica.com that it has become a matter of usage, or common nomenclature, that the terms “summer” and “winter” are still used.

” ‘Summer’ types are on the market all winter; and ‘winter’ types are on the markets in the late summer and fall, as well as winter, according to this source. This terminology was never meant to confuse — it just dates back to a time when the seasons were more crucial to man’s survival than they are now. ‘Good keepers’ became known as winter vegetables if they would ‘keep’ until December.

Steam cubes of butternut squash, then add to cooked greens such as spinach or beet greens for a colorful side dish.

“Winter squash comes in shapes round and elongated, scalloped and pear-shaped with flesh that ranges from golden-yellow to brilliant orange. Most winter squashes are vine-type plants whose fruits are harvested when fully mature. They take longer to mature than summer squash (3 months or more) and are best harvested once the cool weather of fall sets in. They can be stored for months in a cool basement-hence the name “winter” squash.”

We also read that butternut squash has eclipsed acorn squash as our most popular squash type.
Butternut can be baked or steamed. To steam, you can cut the squash in half and take out the seeds and fiber. Then, cut into small chunks and put in a steamer. The flesh will be easy to take off the peel when it is tender. Or, you can peel the squash and cut the flesh into dice and steam it that way. To bake, cut squash in half and clean out the seeds and fiber. You can lightly oil it and place it flesh-side down or up on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Or, use a stuffing you like in the center of the squash, wrap in foil and bake.
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