Winter Squash vs. Pumpkin, Part 1

I am a local chef who enjoys wandering around Farmers Markets in search a beautiful seasonal ingredients. My blog will hopefully demystify them and give you a few ideas and recipes for your table.

Autumn is in definitely full swing. The leaves are turning bright beautiful shades of gold and red then falling from the trees. I'm sad to see the summer fading quickly, but excited about all the new vegetables cropping up. Potatoes of all kinds and squash, to name just a few. This week and next I'm going separate the story of squash into two parts: winter squash and pumpkin. Both are used somewhat interchangeably, but they are slightly  different. Let's look at winter squash first. Squash is broken down into generally two categories: summer and winter. A few months ago if you remember, I did a story on summer squash. One of the first differences between them is the thickness of the skin. Zucchini and yellow squash have a very thin outer skin. So much so that you can eat it raw if the vegetable is young enough, and certainly if cooked. Winter squash skin is pretty much not good eats. It's much thicker and when cooked gets crispy and hard. The inside is fairly different as well. The seeds in the summer variety are small and soft, almost indiscernible when cooked. The winter variety are larger and most definitely tough and bitter. They can be eaten, but only after being toasted.

At a recent visit to the Rye Farmers Markets I picked up severable varieties to play with. I did a simple oven roast on the Amber Cup, Acorn and Delicata. All you need to do is cut in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with a little oil oil, salt and pepper and place in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Let me also add that you should make it a practice to wash all of your fruits and veggies before cutting. Any dirt that is lurking on the skin will dive right to the center along with your knife. 

This week I have a quick and easy stew to show you. The squash I used for this one is butternut. The idea for this came after I got a request by Liz Johnson, from the Journal News. She did a story on slow cooker stews for Halloween and wanted to include a recipe from me.

To read more about winter squash and see my easy slow cooker recipe click this link. 




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Pat October 25, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Now I'm confused! I just watched Martha Stewart who said that you can eat the skin of a butternut or acorn squash and then proceeded to give us all a recipe, which I am making tonight. You, on the other hand, say not to eat the skin! I guess I will find out tonight who is right.
Maria Reina October 25, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Hi Pat, Thanks for reading my post! The reason winter squash lasts as long as they do is because the skin is very hard - to protect the inside. Personally I think the skin on both when cooked is very hard and not very tasty. I suppose it's up to your taste buds. Having said that, if the squash is young, just picked off the vine and small, the the skin would be soft enough. Let me know how it works out.
BG7 October 25, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Sweet dumpling squash are great also. Just pierce with fork a few times, put on paper towel in microwave for 8-10 mins. Then scoop out seeds and serve.


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