When exploring your vegetable garden or visiting your local farmers market, you’re bound to come across an abundance of winter squashes and gourds. It can be overwhelming trying to decide which ones are best for consumption – the choice can be daunting!
Some varieties are better for cooking than others. Here’s what you should consider when making your selection.
Pumpkins and winter squash, whether grown in your vegetable garden or purchased at the grocery store or farmers market, are beneficial to your health! These nutrient-rich veggies contain fiber as well as essential vitamins and minerals.
They’re low in calories and packed with beta carotene – an antioxidant that aids immune health and eye health. Plus, they boast plenty of potassium which helps regulate blood pressure and heart rate.
Pumpkins and other winter squashes can be eaten cooked or raw, depending on the variety. They’re also delicious in soups, salads, and pureed into pies or muffins.
Many varieties are available year-round, each with their own distinctive properties and flavor profiles. For instance, butternut squash and acorn squash have hard shells protecting their sweet, moist flesh.
Most winter squash varieties can be stored for six months or more if properly cured and kept dry. However, frost damage may shorten this timeframe, so be aware of forecasts and plan to pick them when fully ripe.
Growing pumpkins and other winter squashes in your garden is easy if you keep them well-watered during the growing season and mulched to control weeds. Be sure to monitor for pests and diseases, particularly cucumber beetles which can decimate an entire patch.
If your crop is destroyed by pests, you’ll need to replant it. Cucumber beetles are one of the leading culprits for ruining winter squash crops; thus, organic solutions must be sought to effectively control them.
All parts of a pumpkin, including its seeds and skins, are edible. However, before using these parts for cooking purposes, peel them first.
Squash and pumpkin skins are also excellent sources of fiber. They help keep you regular with your bowel movements both soluble and insoluble.
For optimal health benefits from pumpkins and other winter squashes, consume them whole as whole foods. These nutrient-rich veggies are packed with vitamins A, C, and B6, potassium, iron, fiber, and more.
Gardeners look forward to the fall harvest of pumpkins and winter squash for their abundance and delicious taste. Not only are these vegetables packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and deliciousness, but they’re also versatile enough to be baked, steamed, pureed into soups, or added chunks into stews, casseroles, breads, or desserts.
Winter squash is usually hardy vegetables that will stay fresh for six to eight weeks if not damaged in any way. Plus, they provide fiber, vitamin A and B6, potassium, manganese – making them a great wintertime source!
Store them in a cool (50deg to 55degF) dry place to extend their shelf life even further. Doing this helps them resist rot and mold that could harm the flesh.
While some pumpkins and winter squashes are better for carving than others, there is no shortage of edible varieties that can be found at your grocery store or local farmers market. Popular choices include butternut, delicata, spaghetti, kabocha, hubbard, acorn and sweet dumpling.
Squashes or pumpkins can be used in many recipes that call for them, including pie. Additionally, they can be roasted, reduced to a sauce, or combined into a bowl of salad dressing.
When harvesting pumpkins and winter squash, taking them off their vines is essential. Otherwise, their handles may break off and leave you more vulnerable to decay.
Harvesting cherries is best done when their skins are hard and the stems dry out. Doing this helps prevent bruising or skin nicks.
Pumpkins and winter squash can be frozen to preserve their vibrant color and flavor for months to come. To do so, simply scoop out any seeds, wrap in foil, then store in a freezer bag.
Some winter squash, such as acorn, spaghetti and kabocha, are highly resistant to powdery mildew. If your crop has been affected by this disease, spray it with two tablespoons of baking soda and one teaspoon cooking or horticultural oil. This will stop the fungus’ growth and enable your crop to recover.
Pumpkins are often associated with Halloween and Thanksgiving, but the Cucurbita genus contains many other winter squash varieties with vibrant ribbed or bumpy skins that can be used to create delicious cold-weather dishes. They’re a staple in comfort food recipes such as soups, casseroles and even sweet breads.
Winter and summer squashes come in an array of colors and sizes, all belonging to the large plant family Cucurbitacae (Gourds).
Squash are classified into three main groups, C. moschata, C. maxima, and C. pepo; some varieties, such as butternut squash or acorn squash, may even be considered “winter” varieties.
Most of the squash we know and love belong to C. moschata, including pumpkins and other winter squash varieties. Other members of this genus include Delicata – small yellow or orange striped pumpkins – and Acorn squash (similar to banana squash).
Some squashes can be eaten right from the field, but most are best enjoyed roasted or mashed to create delectable fall and winter meals. Not only are these veggies packed with essential vitamins and minerals, but they’re low in calories too!
Squashes provide essential vitamins A, B, and K as well as potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, and fiber – not to mention carotenoids which aid with blood-sugar control and cancer prevention. Furthermore, squashes possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting properties.
They provide a nutritious source of fiber for you and your family, plus they’re easy to grow in the vegetable garden.
When growing squash or pumpkins in a garden, be sure to inspect the plants regularly for signs of insect pests and diseases like powdery mildew. These issues are easily treated with organic spray, so using it may help avoid them altogether.
Mulch and weed barriers are effective tools for protecting your garden from soil-borne disease and other pests, which can increase yield. You may cover the patch with a blanket or drop cloth to reduce frost damage risk and extend produce storage life.
Pumpkins and winter squash, whether grown in your vegetable garden or purchased at the grocery store or farmers market, make for delicious and nutritious snacks. Not only do they offer a range of flavors and textures when cooked, but they can also be steamed, baked, pureed or blended into soups, stews, casseroles or desserts to add some sweetness.
These fruits and vegetables belong to the cucurbit family, which also includes summer squash, zucchini, melons, cucumbers and gourds. While some of these items can be eaten raw (e.g. squash and melons), others require roasting, boiling or mashing before consumption.
Pumpkins and winter squash are not only a great source of vitamins and minerals, but many varieties also contain compounds called carotenoids which protect our eyes by blocking harmful UV rays that could harm lenses or retinas. Furthermore, many pumpkins and winter squash contain dietary fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.
Some pumpkins and winter squash are cured before harvest, which can enhance their flavor and nutritional value. Curing reduces water in their flesh and improves certain varieties, like hubbards and butternuts. If you plan to store the produce for later use, ensure to store in a cool, dry place.
Winter squash often develops carotenoid pigment during storage, which increases their health benefits over time. These include pro-vitamin A and alpha-carotene, both of which support healthy cell growth.
These fruits and vegetables are incredibly nutritious. They’re loaded with fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and other beneficial antioxidants and minerals.
Winter squash are versatile enough to be eaten raw, steamed, cooked or pureed into soups and casseroles. Some varieties, like acorn and spaghetti squash, taste particularly tasty when roasted, mashed or pureed with various seasonings. They add an irresistibly sweet and nutty flavor to soups, stews, casseroles and mixed oven-roasted vegetables alike.
For the tastiest winter squash and pumpkins, purchase them locally. Not only are you supporting local farmers and the environment, but you’re getting fresh organic produce that’s in season – meaning it will taste better than what you could buy at the grocery store.
Pumpkins and winter squash are typically grouped by their most common usage:
Ornamentals are pumpkins and winter squashes that American children and patient parents carve just before Halloween. They are grown with color, structural strength, a flat bottom, and a sturdy stem as their main attributes. Though most commonly used as decorations in the home and yard, many of these squash make good eating, especially the smaller varieties, frequently stuffed and baked or baked, then used as eatable soup bowls.
Culinary pumpkins and winter squashes have firmer flesh and a sweeter taste and thus are used for cooking pies, pickles, preserves, and savory dishes. There are many culinary pumpkins; some heirloom varieties are highly prized for their taste and texture.
These pumpkins and winter squashes are grown mostly for their size, which can be really quite large 300 to 1,500 pounds are not unusual. While these varieties are eatable, their flesh is generally less desirable for cooking, and they are most frequently used in competitions or as yard decorations.
Comments are closed.