Winter squash is a summer-growing annual fruit, representing several squash species within the genus Cucurbita. It differs from summer squash in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. At this stage, most varieties of this fruit can be stored for use during the winter. It is generally cooked before eating.
Because squash is a frost-tender plant, the seeds do not germinate in cold soil. Winter squash seeds germinate best when the soil temperature is 21 to 35 °C (70 to 95 °F), and the warmer end of the range is optimum. Seedlings are easily destroyed by frost, thus winter squash is best planted after the soil is thoroughly warmed and all sign of frost has passed.
Winter squash can be harvested whenever the fruits have turned a deep, solid color and the skin is hard. Most of the crop is harvested in September or October (Northern Hemisphere), before heavy frosts hit the planting area. When cutting squash from the vine, two inches of stem should remain attached if possible. Cuts and bruises should be avoided when handling. Fruits that are not fully mature, have been injured, have had their stems knocked off, or have been subjected to heavy frost will rot and should be used as soon as possible or be composted (watch for seedlings in the compost).
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||143 kJ (34 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||1.5 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Winter squash is a low-calorie, good source of complex vegetable carbohydrates and dietary fiber.
It is an excellent source of vitamin A, a great source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese, and a good source of folate, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B1 (thiamin), copper, tryptophan, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid).
Subspecies, cultivars and varieties
- Ambercup squash
- Arikara squash
- Atlantic Giant
- Banana squash (also called Pink Banana squash)
- Buttercup squash
- Georgia candy roaster
- Hubbard squash
- Jarrahdale pumpkin
- Lakota squash
- Mooregold squash
- Red kuri squash (also called "Hokkaido squash", "orange Hokkaido squash", or "baby red Hubbard squash")
- Rouge vif d'Estampes (also spelled Rouge vif d'Etamps)
- Turban squash
- Butternut squash
- Long Island cheese squash (Cucurbita moschata)
- Fairytale pumpkin squash or Musquee de Provence
- Kent Pumpkin ("Jap Pumpkin")
- Acorn squash
- Carnival squash
- Delicata squash (also called Peanut squash)
- Gem squash
- Heart of gold squash (Cucurbita pepo; a hybrid of acorn squash and sweet dumpling squash)
- Spaghetti squash
- Sweet dumpling squash (also called "dumpling squash"; Cucurbita pepo)
- Autumn cup squash
- Cushaw (also called "winter crookneck squash")
- Gold nugget squash (also called "golden nugget squash")
- Marina di Chioggia
- Queensland blue pumpkin
- Sugar loaf squash
- "Winter Squash". University of Illinois Extension. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- Nonnecke, Ib Libner (1989). Vegetable Production. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. p. 534. ISBN 0-442-26721-5.
- "Squash, winter". whfoods.org. The George Mateljan Foundation. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
- "Vitamin A". National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- "Squash". What's Cooking America. Retrieved 2013-08-28.