Sweet and slightly nutty in flavor, Butternut squash is the most widely grown and well-known of the winter squashes. The deep orange color of the flesh is not only a perfect hue for fall (the time of year when it typically comes into season). Butternut squash provides a healthy and delicious punch to many dishes including pastas and soups.
Care & Handling
Contrary to myth and misconception, there is no such thing as an "overgrown" winter squash and the longer the squash grows, the sweeter it will be, so the size you buy will depend on your needs. However, after picking, squash may be damaged by poor storage. Clues to good quality are a smooth, dry rind, free of cracks or soft spots. Moreover, the rind should be dull; a shiny rind indicates that the squash was picked too early, and will not have the full sweetness of a mature squash.
Storage below 50°F (as in the refrigerator) will cause squash to deteriorate more quickly, but refrigerator storage is acceptable for a week or two. Cut squash will keep for up to a week if tightly wrapped and refrigerated.
Rinse off any dirt before using. The hard shell of some types of winter squash can prove challenging to cut: Use a heavy chef's knife or a cleaver, especially for larger squash. First, make a shallow cut in the skin to use as a guide to prevent the knife blade from slipping. Then place the blade in the cut and tap the base of the knife (near the handle) with your fist (or, if necessary, with a mallet or rolling pin) until the squash is cut through. Scoop out the seeds and fibers and cut the squash into smaller chunks, if desired.
Nutrition & Health Benefits:
Along with Vitamins A and C, Butternut squash also offers high concentrations of potassium and dietary fiber and provides a healthy and delicious punch to many dishes including pastas and soups.