A bit of squash by Ruth Harnup/flickr.com CC By 2.0
There are many varieties of winter squash including acorn, butternut, Hubbard and spaghetti squash. Acorn squash is good for baking and tastes delicious when it is filled with sweet, nutty or spice stuffings. Butternut squash has a fine-grained flesh which is perfect for pureeing. Hubbard squash is a large bluish squash. After cooking it mashes well and can be frozen or used in breads, muffins, pancakes and soups. Like its name, cooked spaghetti squash can be served like pasta with a butter or marinara sauce.
When buying winter squash, look for firm produce that feels heavy for its size. Rinds should have a dull sheen and be intact and hard. Slight variations in color are not important. If the stem is still attached, it should be rounded and dry, not shriveled, blackened or moist. Do not buy squash that is soft or has a cracked, watery, decayed or shiny rind.
One excellent quality about winter squash is that it stores well. Most varieties will keep up to three months if stored in a cool, dry place. However, spaghetti squash has a shorter storage life of 2 months and Hubbard squashes can be kept for up to 6 months. Do not wash winter squash before storing as this might hasten rotting.
When preparing squash, be sure to wash the rind before cutting. Use a vegetable brush to loosen any dirt from the surface. Once cut, squash needs to be covered and stored in the refrigerator. Use within a week.
To bake squash, wash it and pierce it several times with a knife to prevent it from bursting. Place it in a baking dish uncovered and bake until the rind of the squash gives slightly. Small squashes may be done within 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven while larger squashes will take more than an hour. You can also use a microwave to bake squash. Just remember to pierce the squash so it doesn't explode in your oven!
Squash apple casserole recipe
- 2 1/2 cups winter squash (such as acorn, butternut or hubbard)
- 1 1/2 cups apples (cooking, such as Macintosh, Granny Smith or Rome)
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Wash and prepare squash and apples (for extra fiber, keep peel on apples). Alternate layers of squash and apples in 8x8 inch pan; end with apples. Sprinkle spices over top layer. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, until squash is tender.