September in New Hampshire brings lots of winter squash!

From mid-August through October, winter squash is in abundance in New Hampshire.  You can find squash at farmers’ markets, farm stands and grocery stores. 

Squashes are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, also known as the gourd family, along with cucumbers, summer squash and watermelon. Winter squash is true to its name as it stores well throughout the winter! The flesh is mostly yellow-orange, with lots of variation in taste and texture.

For nutrition benefits, winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium.  It is also a good source of B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as dietary fiber and copper.

To select a ripe squash at the peak of its flavor, look for firm, dull-colored skin. A fully-ripe squash will be heavy for its size. If the squash is too young, the skin will be shiny and the flesh less flavorful.  If it is too old, the skin will be crinkled, and the flesh will be too fibrous.

The most common varieties of winter squash available in New Hampshire are:  Acorn, Buttercup, Butternut, Delicata, Hubbard, Kuri, and Spaghetti. 

Storage Tips

For winter storage, remove all dirt and leave on a portion of the stem. Store out of the sunlight, between 50-60°F, with good ventilation.  Winter squash can usually be stored up to six months. Refrigerate winter squash only if it has been cut or cooked. To freeze, cook and purée, then place in a labeled and dated freezer bag.

Here are delicious ways to enjoy squash!

  • Purée it for a scrumptious soup or roast with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  • Make it savory.  Cube, add olive oil, your favorite dried herb, salt and pepper, then roast.  Add to a salad, taco, rice dish, omelet or macaroni and cheese.
  • Make it sweet.  Slice add olive oil, maple syrup and/or cinnamon.
  • Halve squashes, roast upside down, then add a stuffing.
  • Purée roasted squash for a soup or pie.

Easy Cooking Tips

To ease preparation, cook winter squash in its skin whenever possible. To make peeling easier, halve or quarter winter squash. Save the seeds—toss with olive oil and salt, then bake at 375°F for 20 minutes.  Sweet potatoes can be replaced by winter squash in many recipes.