© Denzil Green
Squash is a group of vegetables that includes its most famous member, the pumpkin, as well as the decorative gourds that dress North American tables at Thanksgiving.
Summer Squashes such as zucchini and marrow have edible rinds and seeds, and grow quickly.
Squashes which mature in the fall, called Winter Squashes, have hard, thick rinds that you don't eat, and many hard seeds that have to be scooped out and discarded.
Baking brings out more of the taste of a Squash than microwaving, boiling or steaming does.
Consider flavouring Squash with any combination of the following: brown sugar, maple syrup, nutmeg or ginger.
Winter Squashes, with tough skins, are best peeled with a heavy French or chef's knife. Cut off the two ends first, so that you have flat surfaces to stabilize the squash as you cut it, so that you can be cutting it more safely.
Summer Squashes have good amounts of Vitamin C; Winter Squashes have good amounts of Vitamin A, as would be expected from their orangey colour.
1 pound (450g) of Winter Squash, peeled and cooked = 2 cups mashed squash
1 1/2 pounds of Winter Squash, peeled and diced = 4 1/2 cups raw
Freezing: Wash. Don't peel. Cut into, remove seeds. Chop into small pieces. Boil, steam or bake until soft. Let cool. Scrape flesh from rind. Package and freeze.
The Central American trio of foods called "The Three Sisters" is Squash paired with corn and beans. Squashes have been grown in South & Central America as long ago as 5000 BC, and possibly earlier than that.
The knowledge and practice of cultivating Squashes spread from Central America up to the natives in North America, who in turn introduced colonists to the vegetable. The word "Squash" appears to have come from the word "askutasquash" used by Indians in Massachusetts, which meant "something eaten raw", which is actually the last thing you'd do with most Squash (though maybe they meant zucchini). Sometimes, it is interpreted as "something eaten immature", which would apply to Summer Squashes.
Literature & Lore
SquashCalabaza; Gourds; Pumpkin Purée; Pumpkins; Squash Blossoms; Squash; Summer Squash; Ugu; Winter Squash
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Cucurbita (Scientific Name); Courge (French); Kürbisse, Speisekürbisse (German); Zucca (Italian); Calabacín, Calabazas (Spanish); Abóbora (Portuguese)