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Harvest of the Month

December - Winter Squash

Winter Squash
Delicata, Acorn, and Butternut... oh my!  There are a plethora of winter squash varieties just waiting for you to try!  Here's an extensive list, for those curious enough to try them all.  What makes winter squash different from its summertime counterpart?  The rind.  Winter squash is harvested in the fall when the seeds have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind.  This thick, protective layer allows the squash to keep throughout the winter, making it a staple in dishes during the colder months. The skin is inedible in all winter squash varieties EXCEPT delicata squash, which can be eaten rind and all. What is your favorite kind of winter squash?

Humans have consumed squash for over 10,000 years. Squash are native to Central America, between Mexico and Guatemala. Originally, squashes were cultivated for the consumption of their seeds only, as they had minimal, bitter-tasting flesh; over time, fleshier, fruitier varieties were developed. In Aztec, Incan, Mayan and Native American cultures, squashes were grown in companionship with corn and beans. Squashes are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, also known as the gourd family, along with cucumbers, summer squash (pattypan, zucchini), and watermelon.

Varieties
  • Acorn
  • Buttercup
  • Butternut
  • Delicata
  • Dumpling
  • Gourd
  • Hubbard
  • Kabocha
  • Kuri
  • Pumpkin
  • Spaghetti

Benefits
Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A, the mineral potassium and carotene pigments; it is a good source of vitamin B1 (thiamine), B5 (pantothenic acid), B9 (folic acid) and C, as well as dietary fiber and the mineral copper.

Fun Facts
  • Winter squash has a water content of 81%; summer squash has a water content of 98%.
  • Gourds, a type of winter squash, are widely grown for ornamental purposes: as decoration during holidays, for carving, and for making bird feeders!
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