Acorn Squash

 

© 2007 by Olga Massov on Flickr.com, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

All squash belongs to the cucurbit family, which includes pumpkins, melons, and zucchini! Acorn Squash, like all winter squash, is harvested at a mature age, making the skin hard. The skin is protective and increases its storage life. Few people realize that its skin is edible and is an excellent source of fiber and phytonutrients. Winter squash can be stored for 3 months or longer. It is always served cooked. Acorn squash weighs around 1-2 pounds and measures roughly 6 inches in diameter.

Best Storage Practices:

Acorn squash can be stored up to 3 months or longer in a cool, dry place between 55 and 60 degrees F. A higher temperature will shorten storage time, but it will not alter the flavor. Storage temperature below 50 degrees F (as in a refrigerator) will cause squash to spoil more quickly.

Selecting Acorn Squash: 

Choose squash that has a smooth, dry rind and is free of cracks or soft spots. Skin that is easily nicked or scraped with a fingernail means that the squash did not reach maturity. Choose squash that has a deep color and is heavy for its size. It's also best to choose squash with a firm, rounded, dry stem. Squash with no stem permits bacteria to enter.  

Why it's Good to Eat: 

  • Excellent source of vitamin C and calcium
  • Source of dietary fiber and potassium
  • Source of some beta carotene

When it's in Season:

Acorn squash spends several months growing and is generally harvested in the late fall and early winter.

How it's Harvested: 

All squash are grown on vines. First the flowers are pollinated, then the squash begins to develop. Squash rests on the ground as it grows, and it's best to allow winter squash to mature on the vine and then harvest it when the vine has completely died off. 

Recipes:

Acorn squash's flesh is quite sweet, making it suitable for both sweet and savory dishes. Substitute any variety of cooked, mashed squash for canned pumpkin in soup, pie, cookie or bread recipes. Mash cooked squash with sautéed onion or garlic and herbs for a savory side dish.