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Food The Ultimate Guide to Winter Squashes (For Your Front Stoop & Your Stew!)

02:25  12 october  2019
02:25  12 october  2019 Source:   food52.com

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Learn how to use them in this ultimate guide to winter squash . Formally named the Curcurbitaceae family, all winter squash share some common characteristics. They all have hard shells that can be difficult to pierce, which accounts for their longer shelf life (some lasting up to six months).

Whatever your shopping habits, winter squash is a convenience vegetable for anyone, easily worked into soups and stews , gratins and tarts While that protective skin keeps winter squash from going soft, it also makes it a little harder to pick and prepare—you can't test a squash 's ripeness by touch.

Fall is finally here, which means dropping temperatures; nature preening in shades of gold, orange, and red; and gathering around for the holidays. It also means decorating, and cooking with, the seasonal produce family known as winter squash.

a bunch of fruit sitting on top of a cutting board© Provided by Food52

The scientific Latin name for the group is cucurbitaceae, which includes plants like cucumber and watermelon, as well as the ones colloquially identified as gourds, like squash, pumpkin, and zucchini. Here, we’ll discuss the ones that are specifically in their prime through fall.

Winter squash (as opposed to summer squash) is the name of the group that is harvested during September and October. These are all the seasonal gourds that are best for decorating, and the pumpkins that are fit for eating. From the jack-o’-lantern pumpkins that are traditionally carved to sweet butternut squash, many serve as both ornament and food, while some should just be one or the other. We’ve broken down the 12 most popular types of winter squash, so you know exactly what to do with each.

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We all love a good butternut squash soup, and it would be a pretty sad fall without pumpkin pie, but there are plenty of other squashes that This small green squash is one of the most commonly found on the Thanksgiving dinner table—check out our guide to basic roasting for an introduction to your

“ Winter squash ” is kind of a misnomer as these veggies really come into season at the end of summer and early fall. As the season changes, we find I hit up Whole Foods and was amazed at the endless varieties of squash and pumpkins they had available. Honestly, you need a guide in order to navigate

Decorative and delicious

Some of the most iconic, beautiful gourds—the faces of fall, if you will—are very enjoyable to cook with.

Acorn Squash

a pile of fruit© Provided by Food52

This small, green, deeply ribbed squash would look stunning in an array of gourds on your front stoop. Its yellow flesh also tastes buttery and nutty when simply roasted.

Butternut Squash

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The light yellow-orange hue and elongated peanut shape of the butternut squash make it an attractive gourd for decoration, but it’s best known for its role in warming soups and savory pastries like this caramelized onion and butternut squash tart.

Carving Pumpkins

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While the large pumpkins you find in patches beside a corn maze are grown specifically for fall decorations, aka jack-o’-lanterns, they’re definitely still edible—even if a bit more watery and less flavorful than pumpkins grown specifically for cooking.

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No Thanksgiving is complete without winter squash . One of the foods truly native to America, the squash vine’s roots run deep in Mexico With the their diverse shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors, heirloom winter squashes are grown for their remarkable appearances as well as their distinct flavors.

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Cinderella Pumpkins

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As the name suggests, Cinderella pumpkins are gorgeous. Flattened and more rounded, they’re also sweet and moist, which makes them perfect candidates for pie.

Delicata Squash

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Light orange with green stripes, delicata squash is certainly among the most eye-catching. It’s also known as the “sweet potato of squashes” because it boasts a rich, creamy, brown sugar flavor which pairs beautifully with, say, a spicy yoghurt dressing.

Hybrid and Heirloom Pumpkins

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These bumpy, warty pumpkins come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, making for a gourd display full of pattern and texture. Plus, many of them are tasty in soups, as well as roasted.

Kabocha Squash

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A Japanese variety, kabocha squash looks like a small green pumpkin. Its flavor is perhaps the sweetest of all its gourd cousins, and many say it tastes like chestnut.

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White Pumpkins

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You can mix up the colors of your decorative gourd arrangement with white pumpkins, which are also very flavorful for baking.

Simply Ornamental

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These teens tiny gourds are best used for autumnal decorating of tables and front stoops.

Miniature Pumpkins

Perfect for a tabletop or desktop presentation, these handheld pumpkins are not exactly fit for consumption.

Tiny Gourds

These little fruits are adorable, colorful, and warty. Use them to adorn interior surfaces for seasonal festivity only.

Just for cooking

While you are free to decorate your stoop or table with whatever it is that brings you joy, there are a few that are far more delicious than they are aesthetically interesting.

Spaghetti Squash

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This bright yellow orb is not much to look at, but it’s interior is long, thin, and spaghetti-like and great to cook with. Scoop it out and eat it as a pasta alternative with your favorite sauce.

Sweet Georgia Candy Roaster Squash

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Large, long, and a bit awkward looking, this squash has a flavor that is sweet and unique. The flavor intensifies the longer it’s stored, so it’ll turn candy-like if you roast it after letting it age a while.

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Decor Inspiration

Festive Tabletop

For a festive tabletop, look to miniature pumpkins and tiny gourds. A bowl or rectangular box filled with gourds of all colors and shapes does the trick, but if you’re feeling crafty, you could hollow out the gourds and insert tea lights for some seasonal ambiance.

Seasonal Stoops

Pull out all the stops for your home entrance gourd display by flanking your front door with piles of colorful pumpkins and squashes. If you want to take it to the next level, arrange your bountiful display with vines.

Unique Ideas

If you’re looking to exercise extra creativity, incorporate tiny gourd varieties into a fall cheeseboard, hollow out carving pumpkins to make flower vases, or craft a gourd wreath.

Related video: How to Cut a Butternut Squash [provided by Southern Living]

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