Wonderful Winter Squash: Tips and Tricks From A Master Gardener

Winter squash is easy to prepare and a good source of vitamins A and K

Winter squash is easy to prepare and a good source of vitamins A and K

by donR November 6, 2015

Winter squash comes in different sizes, shapes, and colors and they all contain important micro-nutrients.  When I told Gloria Perez that “Winter Squash” was my topic for a presentation at the Senior Center, she said “Wonderful.” She is the master gardener for the Ferndale Friendship Community Garden in Ferndale, Washington and she then began to tell how easy and important it is to include squash in a family meal plan. Here are five of the many ‘tips and tricks’ she shared:

  • There is a big difference between winter and summer squash. Winter squash isn’t ready to pick until the cooler weather of October and November  sets in and this squash hardens on the vine. Summer squash  remains soft on the vine.
  • To cut large winter squash, place a clean machete or an axe on the hard covering and tap it with a mallet, forcing the machete through the squash.
  • Use a large spoon to scrape the seeds out of the squash. Use a spoon to remove the cooked soft flesh from the hard covering after cooking.
  • Winter squash can be baked whole (drill a hole through the covering) or cut in half, cleaned and placed upside-down on a roasting pan (add 1/4″ water) then baked. It can also be cut into smaller, equal-sized pieces, and then boiled, steamed, microwaved or cooked in a crock pot.
  • When picked before it is ripe, winter squash has less flavor (and may taste a little bitter.) When ready to harvest, the outer covering can not be cut by your fingernail.
  • You can taste the sweetness of squash by simply sprinkling on a little butter, salt and pepper before eating. There is no need for exotic flavors or recipes.

But, if you prefer to start with recipes, stay tuned for next week’s post “Cooking 101: 3 Old-Time Winter Squash Recipes.”

SELF Nutrition data is a website that provides all the information you need about nutrients found in healthy foods. Here are nutrients found in a pound of butternut squash plus a rating for fat, sugar, cholesterol and salt.

“This food is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium and Magnesium, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese.”