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 is medium-sized and shaped like a big peanut. It has smooth tan or yellow-orange skin. Its bright orange flesh is mildly sweet.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
The cool part about using squash for decorating is that after a week or so, you can eat it! Here's how:
- Slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Discard seeds.
- Place each half, flesh side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet.
- Bake at 400° for 45-60 minutes or until a fork inserted through the skin moves in and out easily.
- Cut flesh in to small pieces and serve.
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.