Winter Squash in Season | Tips for Picking, Storing, and Serving PLUS my favorite recipe

winter-squash-in-season

A great way to save money on produce is by eating what’s in season.  From October to January it’s peak season for Winter Squash.  That means, not only will you be getting the best price on it, but also the best taste.

Winter Squash Nutrition Facts

  • Squash is a great source of beta-carotene.  Wondering why beta carotenes are important?  Here are some things it helps with:
    • Halt Cancer – Beta Carotene is a great antioxidant.
    • Increase your Immunity
    • Protect against sunburn
    • Helps eyesight
    • Boost your Bones – Beta Carotene can enhance Vitamin A’s effort to lengthen and strengthen bones.
  • The squash actually develops more beta-carotene after being stored for a while.  So buy them and let it sit for a bit to get the most nutrients out of it.
  • Major Vitamin Contribution of Squash – A, B Vitamins including Folate and Vitamin C.  The variety of Squash highest in Vitamin A is Butternut with 11,434 IU per 1/2 cup.
  • Major Mineral Contribution of Squash – Potassium.  This mineral helps regulate heartbeat and keep blood pressure under control.
  • Low in calories, fat and sodium and a good source of fiber.

Tips for Choosing Winter Squash

Variety of Winter Squash – There are countless varieties of winter squash.  Some of the more popular types are butternut, acorn, spaghetti, hubbard and pumpkin.  Here’s tips for picking each:

  • Acorn – should have wide-ribbed, dark green shell.  The longer you store it, the more orange it will become.  So to guarantee a fresh squash, pick a dark green one.
  • Butternut – pick a squash that is smooth, creamy brown or yellow
  • Hubbard – Bumpy Orange red shell that is flecked with dark blue or gray
  • Spaghetti Squash – Smooth and Yellow

What Size to Pick – Smallest are usually the tastiest.

Color to Choose – Pick the darkest skin to get the highest concentration of beta-carotene.

Pick Up The Squash – You want to pick a squash that is hard and heavy for it’s size.

What to Avoid – Don’t pick a squash with soft, spongy spots or nicks in it.

Storing Winter Squash

Store in a Cool Dry Place.  This protects its Vitamins.  If you put it in the refrigerator the cold temperature will convert the starches to sugar.

Stays Good for a While  Squash stores really well.  In fact, Hubbards will stay fresh for up to 6 months while Acorn Squash will remain fresh for 3 to 6 months.  In addition, remember that the amount of Beta Carotene increases over time.

Storing Squash after it’s Cut – Cover the exposed flesh with plastic wrap, refrigerate and use within a day or two.

Tips for Serving Winter Squash

Peel a Butternut Squash with Ease – Many recipes call for you to peel the squash.  This isn’t the easiest thing to do.  Here’s a helpful hint to make it much easier.  Prick the squash several times and cook in the microwave for about two minutes.  This will make the skin tender and easy to peel.  Cut off the ends and cut the squash in half where the neck meets the bulb.   Then peel each section.

Most Nutritious way to Cook Squash – Baking the squash is the most nutritious way to cook it.The amount of vitamin A will not be effected at all, but your Vitamin C Quantity will reduce a bit.  If you are roasting a whole winter squash, pierce it a number of times with a fork to allow steam to escape or cut in half.  Arrange the squash, skin side up if cut in a large shallow roasting pan with 1/2 inch water.  Bake at 400 degree for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until squash is very soft when pierced with knife tip.

Microwave the Squash for Quick Cooking – Slice off both ends and cut in half from top to bottom.  Scoop out the seeds and strings.  Season as desired and wrap in plastic wrap.  Cook on high for 7 minutes per pound.

Puree Squash for Great Pie Filling – Pureed butternut squash is actually sweeter than pumpkin so it can make for a great pie filling.  To make puree, just microwave chunks of butternut squash on high power for 15 minutes.  Then mash the flesh and use.  Eight ounce of peeled squash equals 1 cup puree.

Serve as Gravy – If your kids don’t like squash, here is a great way to serve it.  Just add onion flakes and garlic powder to pureed squash and serve as a healthy “gravy” on pork, pot roast or chicken breasts.

Don’t Trash the Seeds

Just like pumpkins seeds, the seeds from winter squash make for a great snack.  Just follow these these steps:

  1. Scoop seeds from squash and separate from the pulp.
  2. Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet
  3. Roast them at 160 to 170 degrees in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

By roasting at low temperature, you won’t loose the healthy oils in the seeds.

My Favorite Squash Recipe – Coconut Squash Puree

Coconut Butternut Squash Puree
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Naturally sweet nutrient packed side dish with squash.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 small Butternut Squash, peeled and diced in 1 inches chunks
  • 3 TBSP Coconut Oil
  • ¼ cup Coconut Milk
  • 1-4 TBSP Hot Water
  • Sea Salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease Baking Sheet with 1 TBSP Coconut Oil
  3. Layer Butternut Squash 1 inches pieces on tray in single layer
  4. Sprinkle with Sea Salt
  5. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes until softened, but not brown
  6. Place roasted pieces in Food Processor
  7. Add 2 TBSP Coconut Oil, Coconut Milk and 1 TBSP Water
  8. Puree until desired consistency, add more water if necessary
I found this recipe in a book to help you cut your sugars intake.  This dish satisfies your sweet tooth while still packed with nutrients.

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