A Guide to Winter Squash

Greatly varied in shape, size and color, winter squash—like butternut squash and acorn squash—make a vibrant addition to any fall decor.

A simple arrangement of acorn, butternut, turban and other hard-skinned winter squash creates a perfect table centerpiece or mantel decoration—a grouping that practically says fall, especially if the squash are mixed with pumpkins and gourds. This also works well outdoors, particularly near a front entry, where the squash can be loosely arranged or grouped in a wicker basket.

Winter Squash Varieties

butternut squash

Butternut squash is medium-sized and shaped like a big peanut. It has smooth tan or yellow-orange skin. Its bright orange flesh is mildly sweet.

Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash Recipe»

crookneck squash

Crookneck squash is small, skinny and—true to its name—bends like the neck of a bird. It has yellow, bumpy skin. Its pale green flesh is tender.

buttercup squash

Buttercup squash is small to medium in size, drum-shaped, with dark green skin marked with splotches. Its orange flesh has a sweet flavor and creamy texture.

Buttercup Yeast Bread Recipe»

spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash is medium-sized, oblong, with smooth yellow skin. After boiling or baking the squash whole, it is halved, and the flesh is pulled out with a fork into spaghetti-like strands that are slightly nutty-flavored.

Spaghetti Squash with Red Sauce Recipe»

turban squash

Turban squash has bright orange-red skin and a decorative turban-like top knot. The shell is green, orange and white. It is a relative of the buttercup squash, with dry, mildly sweet flesh.

acorn squash

Acorn squash is small- to medium-sized, acorn-shaped, with dark green, orange, green and orange, or white, deeply ridged skin. Its yellow flesh is sweet and moist. Acorn squash are best baked.

Maple-Glazed Acorn Squash Recipe»

Cooking Squash

The cool part about using squash for decorating is that after a week or so, you can eat it! Here's how:

  1. Slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Discard seeds.
  2. Place each half, flesh side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 400° for 45-60 minutes or until a fork inserted through the skin moves in and out easily.
  4. Cut flesh in to small pieces and serve.

Shopping Tips

Winter squash is available year-round. The peak season is October through November. Select squash that is heavy for its sizes. The shells should be hard with a deep color. Avoid any with soft spots or cracks.

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