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Winter Squash

Winter squash come in many sizes and shapes, but all have hard outer rinds that surround sweet, often orange flesh.  Winter squash arrive late in the growing season and they have a long shelf life, so they've long been a staple in winter and spring, when other vegetables are harder to come by.  Unlike summer squash, winter squash must be cooked.  They're usually baked or steamed, and then sometimes puréed.  Select squash that are heavy for their size.


acorn squash   Notes:    These are popular because of their small size--one squash can be cut in half and baked to make two generous servings.  The biggest drawback to this variety is that the rind is quite hard, and therefore difficult to cut.  Select acorn squash with as much green on the rind as possible.  Substitutes:  buttercup squash (drier) OR butternut squash (nuttier flavor; easier to peel when raw) OR banana squash (much larger) OR turban squash (sweeter) OR Hubbard squash (much larger) OR pumpkin (much larger) OR green papayas OR golden nuggest squash (hard to cut open; consider baking first)

baby acorn squash  Substitutes: summer squash   

banana squash   Notes:   This variety is so large that grocers usually cut into smaller chunks before putting it out.  It's tasty, but its biggest virtue is the beautiful golden color of its flesh.  Substitutes:  butternut squash OR buttercup squash OR acorn squash OR Hubbard squash OR pumpkin


buttercup squash  Notes:   With sweet and creamy orange flesh, the buttercup is one of the more highly regarded winter squashes.  The biggest shortcoming is that it tends to be a bit dry.  Choose specimens that are heavy for their size.   Substitutes: butternut squash (nuttier, sweeter flavor; easier to peel when raw) OR acorn squash (less flavorful, moister) OR Hubbard squash OR delicata squash OR kabocha squash OR pumpkin OR green papaya


butternut squash   Notes:   This variety is very popular because it's so easy to use.  It's small enough to serve a normal family without leftovers, and the rind is thin enough to peel off with a vegetable peeler.  As an added bonus, the flavor is sweet, moist, and pleasantly nutty.   Substitutes: buttercup squash (not as sweet and moist; harder to peel when raw; consider baking with skin on) OR acorn squash (not as sweet; harder to peel when raw, consider baking with skin on) OR calabaza OR delicata squash OR kabocha squash OR Hubbard squash (harder to peel when raw, consider baking with skin on) OR green papaya

calabash  1. spaghetti squash  2. cucuzza

calabaza = green pumpkin = West Indian pumpkin = Cuban squash = toadback = Jamaican pumpkin = crapaudback = ahuyama = zapallo = abóbora = giraumon    Pronunciation:  kah-luh-BAH-zuh   Equivalents:  1 pound yields 2 cups cooked squash   Notes:   These are popular in Hispanic countries and throughout the Caribbean.  They're large, so markets often cut them up before selling them. Substitutes:   sugar pumpkin OR butternut squash OR buttercup squash OR Hubbard squash OR acorn squash  

delicata squash = sweet potato squash = Bohemian squash    Pronunciation:  de-lee-CAH-tuh  Notes:  This is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like sweet potatoes.  Choose squash that are heavy for their size.  Substitutes:  butternut squash OR buttercup squash OR sweet potato

golden delicious squash  Substitutes: hubbard squash

golden nugget squash = Oriental pumpkin = gold nugget squash   Notes:   This has a pleasant flavor, but it doesn't have as much flesh as other squashes and the heavy rind makes it hard to cut before cooking.   Select specimens that are heavy for their size, and that have a dull finish.  Those with shiny rinds were probably picked too young, and won't be as sweet. Substitutes: acorn squash

green pumpkin

Hubbard squash   Notes:   This variety has tasty flesh, but it's too large for many families to hand and the rind is hard to cut though.  Some grocers cut them into smaller pieces before putting them out.  Substitutes: pumpkin OR golden delicious squash OR buttercup squash OR butternut squash (easier to peel when raw, sweet flavor)  OR banana squash OR acorn squash OR green papaya

Japanese pumpkin

Japanese squash


kabocha squash = Japanese squash = Japanese pumpkin = nam gwa = sweet mama = kabachi Pronunciation:   kuh-BOW-tchah  Equivalents:  1 cup cubed raw squash = 116 grams   Notes:  This orange-fleshed winter squash has a striated green rind. It's sweeter, drier, and less fibrous than other winter squash, and it tastes a bit like sweet potatoes.   Substitutes: butternut squash OR acorn squash OR turban squash OR other winter squash   

kin nam gwa

nam gwa

Oriental pumpkin

pumpkin   Notes:  Use the small sugar pumpkin = pie pumpkin for pies; the larger jack o'lantern pumpkin is too watery.  Canned pumpkin purée is convenient and a good substitute for fresh.   Substitutes:  autumn squash OR Hubbard squash (especially in pies) OR calabaza OR butternut squash (good in pies) OR buttercup squash OR acorn squash OR sweet potato (especially for pies)  

spaghetti squash = calabash = vegetable spaghetti    Notes:   After it's cooked, you can dig a fork into the flesh of a spaghetti squash and pull out long yellow strands that resemble spaghetti.  Though they taste like squash, the "noodles" can serve as a low-calorie substitute for pasta.      Substitutes: spaghetti OR butternut squash OR banana squash 


sweet dumpling squash  Notes:   Sweet dumpling squash are fairly small, so you can cut them in half, bake them, and serve each half as an individual portion.  The flesh is sweeter and drier than that of other winter squash, and the peel is soft enough to be eaten.  Substitutes:  butternut squash OR kabocha squash OR acorn squash

sweet mama  

sweet potato squash


turban squash   Notes:   This squash has a gorgeous rind, but ho-hum flavor.  It makes a good centerpiece, or you can hollow it out and use it as a spectacular soup tureen.    Substitutes: butternut squash OR acorn squash OR green papaya

vegetable spaghetti

West Indian pumpkin


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