© Denzil Green
Acorn Squash is a winter squash with dark green skin, but it’s not unusual to see some whose skin is coloured with blotches of green and orange.
They are named Acorn because their shape is reminiscent of that of an acorn.
The rind is quite hard. The upside of this is that it holds together well for baking and transferring to a plate. The downside is that it requires a firm arm to cut it in half when you are preparing it. The squash inside, however, is very sweet and easy to cook.
Varieties of Acorn Squash include Acorn, Royal Acorn, Table King, Table Queen (aka ‘Des Moines’, ‘Danish’) and White. Most have distinctive, deep ridges that run the length of the squash.
Pepper Squash is the same squash as Acorn Squash.
Traditional: Halve and seed the acorn squash. Place cut side up in an oven proof dish or on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with brown sugar (you may also sprinkle with ground cinnamon and/or cloves to taste.) Dot with butter (optional as well.) Cover with tin foil, and bake until soft, about 45 minutes.
Low fat: Instead of dotting with butter, sprinkle with orange juice.
In Risotto: Cube it, fry in olive oil with a little garlic until tender, then stir into a risotto which is just about ready.
Any other squash including pumpkin.
“Acorn squash are best kept at 10 C with 60% relative humidity. They will store for 5 to 8 weeks. It is important to maintain greenness on acorn squash as yellowing indicates that the flesh is becoming stringy.” (Munro, Derek. B. and Earnest Small. Vegetables of Canada. Ottawa: National Research Press. 1997. Page 183.)
Acorn squash varieties were grown by Native Americans. The variety now known as Table Queen was introduced commercially in 1913:
“Table Queen, a heart-shaped squash, was first introduced by the Iowa Seed company in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1913.” (Fertig, Juila. Heartland: The Cookbook. Kansas City, Missouri: Andrews McMeel Publishing. 2011. Page 167.)
Table Queen is also known as ‘Des Moines’ or ‘Danish’ squash. (Seedsavers Catalog. Squash, Table Queen. Accessed March 2016 at http://www.seedsavers.org/table-queen-organic-squash)
Literature & Lore
The name comes from its resemblance to a large — very large — acorn, the size that your neighbourhood squirrels might dream of during long winter nights.