Everything You Wanted to Know About Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is easily one of my favorite foods. I think it has something to do with its ability to complement or make just about any dish better. The sad thing is that it wasn’t until the year 2013 that I first made my own butternut squash. I always saw it in the grocery store but its odd shape and size made me eye it with a nervous suspicion; I assumed that it was up to no good and that I didn’t have the skills necessary to tame this beast. Oh, how wrong I was. After learning a few new skills, I find myself buying butternut squash almost on a weekly basis. Something about it’s nutty flavor, texture and bright-orange color make me want it on my plate. So, in honor of one of my newfound favorite foods, I want to dive-in headfirst into an all-things butternut squash.
Winter is Coming
In case you are a nerd like me, you will be curious to learn that one man, Robert E. Young, is responsible for developing the most popular variety of butternut squash found in the US. Working for the Waltham Experiment Station in the early-1900s, Mr. Young developed the variety of butternut squash that you are most used to seeing: the Waltham Butternut Squash.
As I started doing some further research into butternut squash, the first thing I came across was that it is labeled as a winter squash. Not every season gets its own squash though, only summer and winter are special enough to receive that distinction. Why does the squash’s variety matter to you? Simple: there are significant differences between summer and winter squashes and these differences will drastically affect how you approach them. Winter squashes are characterized by a hard outer rind that is usually discarded and the seeds within are fully matured, meaning that they are rock-hard and scraped out before cooking. These seeds can then be roasted and eaten as a snack or used as a garnish. Despite it’s name, winter squashes are grown during the summer and fall months and its harvested in the September to October timeframe. Besides butternut, some other winter squashes are acorn, spaghetti and pumpkins.
In contrast, summer squashes are harvested while the seeds are still immature and the rind is still tender and edible. Zucchinis, yellow squashes and pattypans are varieties of summer squashes. Winter squashes can be stored for two to three months in a cool, dry place – a pantry is a perfect place for storage. . Finally, butternut squashes are extremely good for you. They are packed with Vitamins A, C and E. Plus they come with ample supplies of potassium, fiber, manganese and magnesium. Manganese and magnesium are essential nutrients required for a healthy, properly functioning body.
Enough Science, Onto the Food
Okay, I think that was enough of an overview of butternut squash. Now its time to start cooking. Below, I’ve included links to three different methods of preparing butternut squash to get you started. Go ahead and bookmark this page as a reference for when you find yourself with a butternut squash and have no idea what to make with it. (Click on the pictures to get the full details)
If, for whatever reason, the above science/history lesson was not enough for you, here are some resources that you can peruse to learn more about winter squashes, specifically our friend, the butternut squash.