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Winter Squash Tips and Recipes

There is no other ingredient that symbolises the arrival of Autumn more vividly than squash and pumpkins.

There is a whole world of squashes and pumpkins out there, from the blueish-green Crown Prince, to the highly prized Delica, and the more common Red Onion Squash, there is more to explore than the humbled Butternut.

We've put together our top tips alongside some tasty recipes to show how versatile and delicious squash and pumpkin can be. Read on!

Harvesting and storing winter squash

If you have been lucky enough to grow your own squash this year, you can begin to harvest these when the leaves start to turn yellow. This is an indication that the squash is ripe, meaning it will store well throughout the winter. Make sure that you keep the stem intact, as this prevents rotting. Winter squash and pumpkins can store for up to six months if kept at room temperature.

What to look for when buying

The best place to buy winter squash is at the farmer’s market, or from your local greengrocers as this is where you will find the widest choice of varieties.

Always choose ones that aren’t too big and feel the firmest. It is best to avoid large pumpkins, as they tend to be very watery without much flavour, so it is best to keep these for Halloween decorations.

Different varieties of winter squash and their different uses

Squash and pumpkins are varieties of the Cucurbita family, boasting both summer and winter varieties. Summer squash, such as courgettes, have a thin skin and therefore do not have the same storing properties as winter squash, which have a much harder skin meaning they can be stored for months in a cool dark place. Typically winter squash is harvested from September but can be stored well into the following year.

There is much more to explore than the humble butternut, so why not try the fluorescent orange Uchiki Kuri (otherwise known as Onion Squash)? Or perhaps the blue/green Crown Prince, a chef’s favourite heralded for its consistency and flavour? Or maybe the Turks Turban, which looks more like a decorative gourd, but has wonderful eating properties.

Tips on how to prepare winter squash

Hard skins mean winter squashes are not so easy to peel, so it’s easier to roast them with the skin on and then scoop out the soft flesh when cooked. Or simply cut into slices and roast with the skin on, as the roasted skin is surprisingly tender and delicious. One exception is butternut squash, which does have a thin enough skin to peel with a sharp peeler.

Be very careful when you slice squash as the skin can be very hard to cut through, use a large knife on a solid chopping board, first cut each squash in half and slice off the stem, scoop out the seeds and then cut crescent moon shaped slices.

Cooking methods and raw methods with winter squash

Roasting squash will yield the best flavour, but it can be boiled into stews and curries as they work well in absorbing flavour from spices. If roasting, it is easiest to leave the skin on as they are not so easy to peel, but once cooked the soft flesh can be scooped out.

In many cases, the skin can be surprisingly tender and delicious. A tip when making soup with squash is to make a stock out of the skins, pulp and seeds, as this really imparts the flavour of the squash without yielding too much waste.

Favourite Winter Squash Recipes

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