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-Market Tips-


Winter Squashes:


What are they, and what do I do with them?


Winter squashes are both delicious and an excellent source of nutrition... and they are surprisingly easy to prepare.


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Winter squash is a variable group, including fruits of many different shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. A winter squash is a mature, hard-shelled fruit, usually harvested late in the season and used for storage throughout the winter.


Included in this category are terrific choices like butternut, acorn, turban, kabocha, carnival, buttercup, hubbard, and spaghetti squashes.


Colors include dark and light greens, buttery yellows, vibrant oranges, and mottled, striped and speckled multi-colored gems.


Nutritionally, most winter squash varieties qualify as superfoods because they are bursting with fiber and the antioxidants carotene and vitamin C. Most types also have folic acid as well as needed minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.


Selecting Winter Squash ~ Squash should be heavy for their size and have a dull appearance. They should also be firm to the touch with no soft spots, bruises or cuts. When the squash are cut, the flesh should have a moist appearance.


Storing Winter Squash ~ Because of their hard shells, squash may be stored up to six months in a cool, dry place, which allows them to be enjoyed well into the winter months.


Preparing Winter Squash ~ Winter squash are easiest to prepare when they are cooked before the skin is removed. Wash squash, then use a sharp, heavy knife to cut open the squash. Use a heavy-duty spoon to easily remove the seeds and fibers. If a recipe requires peeling the squash before cooking, use a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler.


Cooking Squash ~ Favorite Easy Oven Method: Bake smaller size squash whole by piercing the skin with a knife in several places. Larger sizes may be cut in half or quartered. Remove the seeds and fibers. Place whole, or halved squash with cut sides up, in an ungreased baking pan or dish. If baking halves, add about 1/4-inch water to the pan. Dot squash halves with butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 350°F for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the size and variety of the squash. Cool slightly. If whole, cut open and remove seeds and fibers after baking. Remove the skin.


Winter Squash are delectable all season long.