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Winter Squash Guide

Did you know there is a way to preserve your favorite winter squash to enjoy fresh for up to 6 months! In this guide you will learn about how to purchase, store, and cook your favorite a wide variety of winter squash.

A variety of winter squash

In Michigan, you may look forward to fall harvest bringing an abundance of winter squash starting in September through the first frost. Winter squash includes varieties such as butternut, acorn, buttercup, delicata, mashed potato, pie pumpkins, hubbard, spaghetti squash, and more!


Unlike summer squash, the winter varieties are known for thicker skin and longer shelf life - some varieties will store for up to 6 months. We have created a useful tool to help you know what flavor to expect and how long it will store:

Winter Squash

Flavor

Shelf Life (months)

Acorn

Sweet and nutty flavor

Up to 3

Buttercup

Similar to acorn, except sweeter

Up to 6

Banana

Tastes similar to a sweet potato

Up to 6

Butternut

An overall nutty squash, slightly sweet

Up to 6

Delicata

Cross between butternut and sweet potato

Up to 3

Hubbard

Similar to sweet potato, except sweeter

Up to 6

Mashed Potato

Flesh tastes like mashed potatoes

Up to 3

Pie Pumpkin

Tastes like the classic canned pumpkin

Up to 3

Spaghetti

Serves as a good alternative to pasta

Up to 3

Curing Squash

You may be asking yourself now, how do you get your squash to live up to this shelf life? Let's talk about that next! The process that will allow you to get ready to preserve best for winter is known as curing. The curing process for squash involves cleaning your squash well and setting out in a dry, warm, and well ventilated area such as near a sunny window, a sun room, greenhouse, or sunny windowsill.

The sun will help harden the skins of your squash for optimal storage. This process takes about 7-14 days. The hard skin will help preserve quality, flavor, and prevent bacteria growth (mold). Once the curing process has completed, you can store in a cool, dry area for the winter!


Once you've purchased, cured, and stored... the next step is cooking! Now how do we enjoy these wonderful squash with rock hard outer shells without cutting our hand off to get into the flesh to bake! We have the easiest way EVER - you will never go back to trying to cut a squash in half again.


Cooking Squash

Butternut Squash
Washed butternut squash ready for the oven!

Ingredients:

1 winter squash of choice

Baked butternut squash
Roasted butternut squash after baking 60 minutes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  2. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

  3. Place washed winter squash, whole, on to the lined sheet pan.

  4. Bake in oven for about 60 minutes. **You may need to go longer depending on the size of your squash. When you can stick a fork easily through the skin you will know the squash has completed cooking.

  5. Remove cooked squash from the oven, allow to cool about 10-15 minutes.

  6. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds with an ice cream scoop or large spoon. Discard the seeds (or feed them to your goats or chickens).

  7. Once the seeds have been removed you can either cut the skin off or scoop the flesh out depending on how you plan to use in your recipe.

  8. Enjoy the squash any way you desire!

Recipe Ideas for Winter Squash

Butternut Squash Pasta

Ingredients

3-4 cups Butternut Squash, cooked and diced

3 medium tomatoes, cored and wedged

2 leeks, diced

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp garlic and herb salt free seasoning (McCormick or Mrs. Dash)

1 tsp Black Pepper

1 tsp Thyme

1 box of Pasta (I used sweet potato pasta but any high fiber pasta will work!)

1/3 cup pasta water reserved from cooking the pasta

Butternut squash pasta
Butternut squash pasta

Directions

  1. There are a few ways you can prepare your butternut squash for this recipe depending on your schedule: The night before: Bake a butternut squash as stated above, once cooled peel the skin off, cut in half, remove seeds, place in fridge until the next evening. The next day you can pull the cooled squash from the fridge and dice for recipe. The day of: Bake the butternut squash as stated above, once cooled peel the skin off, cut in half, remove seeds, and dice. Last minute meal: You can purchase frozen, diced butternut squash for this recipe and take the frozen squash from your freezer to use directly in this recipe without thawing.

  2. You will be serving the sauce on top of a pasta of choice. For easy meal prep, you can prepare the noodles ahead of time and store in the refrigerator until you plan to make this dish or you can cook the noodles while the veggies are in the oven. **When you cook the noodles, you will want to save 1/3 cup of the pasta water to use when you blend your sauce. If cooking ahead of time, save the noodle water in a separate container in the fridge so that it is not absorbed into your noodles during storage.

  3. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

  4. On the sheet pan place diced butternut squash, tomato wedges, and diced leeks. **The ingredients on the sheet pan will be blended into a sauce after cooking; how big or small you cut these items, does not matter.

  5. Coat the sheet pan veggies with olive oil, garlic and herb seasoning, thyme and pepper. You can add more seasoning when you taste the sauce in the end, if desired.

  6. Bake the sheet pan mixture in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes.

  7. Once the veggies are done, remove from the oven and scoop into a blender or food processor. Add the 1/3 cup of pasta water. Blend until smooth.

  8. Enjoy the sauce over your noodle of choice! If you have leftovers you can keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for an easy meal option later!

Parmesan Roasted Delicata Squash

Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash

Pumpkin Overnight Oats

Mashed Potato Squash


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