Types of Squash

Published on: Jan 26 2011 by Zaheer

You have definitely heard about squash or may even have seen it. It is a kind of fruit available in both summer and winter varieties. Some of you may be wondered that why some squashes are a part of summer varieties and other of winter varieties. You will get your answer in the coming paragraphs.

Well, most of the people may be assuming that the summer varieties of squash will only be available in summer and winter varieties in winter, but this is not actually the case. You can find summer varieties in the market during the entire year and similarly, winter varieties are found in the market all through late summer and fall to even until winter.

Summer varieties of squashes usually have a thinner texture of skin due the fact that these are reaped prior to their skin thickens. Due to their thinner texture, you cannot preserve them for longer period of time. Winter varieties of squashes are reaped after they are completely grown. So, the skin of winter squashes is thicker and can be preserved for longer period of time as compared to summer squashes. Winter squashes have so many varieties which come in different shapes, sizes and colors. Unlike summer squashes, winter squashes cannot be eaten raw.

If we talk about the different types of squash, the numbers are quite high and shocking. Following are given few of those types with brief description:

Acorn Squash

If you are a fan of green Bay Packers, then you must love the acorn squash as it is available in all the team’s three colors, i.e. green, gold and white. It has a compact size and gives one or two portions. It has distinct ribs which create an interesting vessel. You can use the halves as decorative bowl by hollowing them out after baking. You can use the bowls, for stuffing, squash soup, mashed squash or for rice. Acorn squash is a bit fibrous with a sweet taste.

Availability: Although available the entire year, but the white and gold acorn squashes’ peak season is from late August to December.

Ambercup Squash

Like acorn squash, these are also compact sized, having a weight less than three pounds. It has a pumpkin-colored shell along with irregular stripes in which a deep vibrant orange flesh is enclosed. Being having drier properties, ambercup squash is used in making soups, rice pilaf or stuffing.

Availability: Ambercup squash is available from June to November.

Autumn Cup Squash

Autumn cup squash comes in forest green shell with sparse green stripes on it. It is rich-flavored having a velvety, orange-colored flesh which is very delicious and sweet. It is compact but firm.

Availability: Autumn cup squash is available from September to December.

Australian Blue Squash or Queensland Blue Winter Squash

It is a stocky type of squash with teal-gray skin. A bright orange flesh is enclosed inside the skin. Australian Blue Squash or Queensland Blue Winter Squash resembles to pumpkin in its taste and appearance and one can use them in each other’s place. This squash is also called Jarrahdale Pumpkin. Getting this name after the Jarrahdale which was the Western’s Australia’s first timber town developed in 1872 and is known for its orchards, art galleries and farm.

Availability: The peak seasonal months of this squash is from September to December.

Baby Boo Pumpkin

It is a kind of small white pumpkin which is only 2-3 inches in diameter. As it is small in size there is not much flesh encased in it, so these are usually used for decorative purposes.

Availability: Fall is the peak season.

Banana Squash

Banana squash are large in size, measuring about 2-3 feet in length. Banana squash are log-shaped with pale cream or peach colored skin in which a golden, cantaloupe-colored flesh is encased. The average weight of banana squash is 10-12 pounds; however, in home gardens it can grow up to the weight of 40-50 pounds. Bush Pink Banana Squash is a variety of banana squash which is considered as the heirloom squash with pink skin.

Availability: It is available almost the entire year with peak season from late summer to early fall.

Buttercup Squash

Buttercup squash is a stocky fruit, having green skin with vertical gray or pale green stripes. It has a tender orange flesh which tastes like a sweet potato.

Availability: Peak season of the buttercup squash is from early fall to winter.

Butternut Squash

It has a bottleneck shape with a cream-colored skin. Butternut squash is known as a most common variety of squash which has a flavor similar to nuttier version of sweet potato.

Availability: Peak season persist from summer to early fall. However, these are available the entire year.

Calabash

Calabash has a large round, smooth skin with a thick, hard skin of pale-green color. It is also called a bottle gourd because of its bottle-like shape. It is multipurpose squash which is not only used as food but also used to make different items. Calabash has a white flesh which is used to make Chinese stir-fries or dried as strips in Japan. The seeds of calabash are roasted and combined with rice, cinnamon and almond based drink, especially in Central America. The dried out shells of the calabash have a number of uses such as bowls, containers, smoking pipes, ornaments, and/or bird houses. Some of the musical instruments can also be made with dried shell such as maracas, string instrument and even drums. The dried shell is also used in a very unique way by the natives of New Guinea where it is used as a koteka (penis gourd or sheath).

Availability: It is available from late summer to fall.

Calabaza or West Indian Squash

Calabaza is available in round or pear-shaped shapes. It is found in different colors ranges from beige to pale sunset colors. This squash is popular in Caribbean, Central America and South America. Though, has resemblance with the butternut squash, it is slightly firmer and fibrous in texture.

Availability: It is available the entire year.

Carnival Squash

Carnival squash is given this name because of having festive pattern on its skin along with deep orange colored brush like stripes and green specks. It contains a golden yellow flesh which is creamier and sweeter in taste.

Availability: The peak season is from late summer to early fall, but you can have them the entire year.

Chayote Squash or Christophen Squash

Chayote squash was known to be grown in Central America. Due to its unique shape, it is often refer to as vegetable pear. It has an apple-green color with a mild taste. You can find it energizing like cucumber, delicate like zucchini and crisp like an apple. Chayote squash can be used in several ways such as you can eat it raw, deep fried or over salad. It is firmer than summer squash.

Availability: The peak season months are from September to May, however, it is available the whole year.

Cheese Wheels or Cheese Pumpkin

It is called cheese wheels because of its squat and round texture like that wheel of cheese. It is also called Long Island Cheese Pumpkin because of peach or orange skin. These are good to use in pies and have a sweet flavor.

Availability: These are available from fall to winter.

Chinese Okra, Luffa Gourd or Silk Melon

It tastes like a zucchini. It has ridges which serve as a decorative purpose with dishes or crudités. The Chinese okra doesn’t require to be peeled off. With the time, the taste of Chinese okra becomes bitter and also its ridges become rough. So, always look for young Chinese okras.

Availability: Its peak season is summer and fall, but you can find them the entire year in market.

Cinderella Pumpkin or Red Etampes

Cinderella Pumpkin is a round, medium-sized squash having red-orange skin along with green streaks. It is also named as red etampes. It is mostly used as a decorative pumpkin, though it has good edible properties. It is similar to the pumpkin which Cinderella’s Godmother alters into a carriage.

Availability: Its peak seasons month are from late August to fall.

Crookneck Squash

Crookneck squash is a yellow color summer squash which tastes like winter squash. It is available in smooth-skin and warty-skin varieties. It has a thin curved neck.

Cucumber

Cucumber is common to many of you. It is cylindrical in shape with green skin. Cucumbers are widely used in salads, snacks, sandwiches or in sushi rolls. Cucumbers are also used in soups, as a pureed sauce, or in ethnic dishes such as Greek cucumber and yogurt salad, known as tzatziki and also in Indian raita. There are so many known varieties of cucumbers which are distinguished from each other through skin and seeds. When used in cooking they give you a very soft, delicate taste.

Availability: Cucumber is available throughout the year.

Cucuzza or Italian Squash

The Italian word used for the squash is cucuzza; therefore it is also known as Italian squash. It is also known as bottle gourd because of its long, curved and heavy lower body. It has a sweet, mild and gentle flavor.

Availability: It is available from summer to fall.

Decorative Squash

Decorative squash is available in many different shapes and marking that make it suitable for an attractive centerpiece and for other décor. It is an eatable winter squash also named as ornamental squash. Decorative squash includes different varieties such as baby boo pumpkin, calabash squash, carnival squash, delicate squash and turban squash.

Delicata Squash or Sweet Potato Squash

Delicate squash has an oblong shape with lemon color skin along with green and/or orange streaks. Its flesh is kind of cross between butternut squash and sweet potato; therefore it is also given the name of sweet potato squash. Another name of delicate squash is bohemian squash.

Availability: Its peak season is from late summer to early fall. However, you can have it throughout the year.

Eight-Ball Squash

Eight ball squash is originated from California. It is a flattened, round, spherical cross breed of zucchini. It has the same features as that of zucchini such as dark, speckled green skin and cooked in the same way as zucchini. You can use eight ball squash as a substitute for zucchini.

Availability: Warm months in California are its peak season, i.e. from spring to fall.

Fairytale Pumpkin

Fairytale pumpkin is a large flat winter pumpkin having deep ribs. The fully grown pumpkin has an orange-brown colored skin encased in which is the deep orange flesh. It weighs up to 20 pounds. It has a sweet, tender flavor. In France and some states of U.S. it is known as a musquee de Provence.

Gold Ball Squash

Gold ball squash is relatively a newer variety and is a mixed breed of gold zucchini. It is round in shape and can be used as bowls in which you can serve salad, soups or pureed squashes or vegetables.

Gold Nugget Squash

It is similar to the hand-sized pumpkin. Its skin gets dull when it becomes mature. It has a deep orange rind as well as flesh. Like many other squashes, it has a pleasant and tender taste. It is pretty much capable of conform itself to a variety of flavors and spices.

Availability: Its peak season months are from late summer to early winter.

Gooseneck Squash

It is akin to the calabash squash. The only difference between the two is in the shape of their necks. Unlike calabash bottleneck shape, the neck of this squash appears like a goose’s neck.

Gourd

This is a type of squash which belongs to the plant family, Cucurbitaceae. Gourds are known to be the first plant domesticated by the humans in Africa. Gourds are normally a hollow, dried shell available in both edible and non-edible varieties. Gourds are used in the making of vessels, musical instruments and also as a decorative piece. The rattling dried seeds inside allow them to be utilized as percussion instruments. In Caribbean, gourds are still used in the form of resonating chambers on several stringed instruments and drums.

Green-Striped Cushaw Squash

The cushaw squash as the name suggest has green stripes over the white, mottled skin. It has a shape like that of crookneck. The meat inside the squash is yellow color, which can be popularly used in pies and as fillings. A cushaw squash has a sweet taste with a thick coarse feel.

Availability: Its peak season starts from late summer till the end of winter.

Hubbard Squash (Blue, Golden, Green, or Gray)

Hubbard squash is a large and rough fruit like that of a deformed teardrop. It has a wart covered skin encased in which is the peach-colored flesh. The flesh is slightly moist in texture which is suitable for baked and pureed items. Normally, Hubbard squash are available in a uniform color, but gray variety has a slight dusty looks.

Availability: Its peak season is from early fall to winter. It is available in the market the entire year.

Indian Bitter Melon

Indian bitter melon is akin to bumpy cucumber. However, it is quite smaller in size than Chinese bitter Melon, i.e. 4-5 inches in length. It has a grooved yellow-green or dark-green skin in which a fibrous, seed filled core is encased. The more lighter the color, milder the taste. Once it matures, it becomes bitter in taste. Indian bitter melon can be used in soups, steamed or braised, in curries, or stir fries.

Availability: It is available almost the whole year from January to November.

Kabocha Squash

Kabocha is a Japanese origin term used for this squash. However, it is also known by other names such as ebisu, delica, hoka and Japanese pumpkin or Japanese squash. It has a mossy-green skin with grayish-teal streaks. It has non-fibrous flesh which has a sweet, tender taste.

Availability: It is available in the market the entire year.

Mo Qua Squash

This squash has its origin in China and is closely related to the winter melon. Its shape is like that of zucchini. It has a medium green skin with fuzzy white hairs on it. Its flesh is firm with gentle taste. It can be peeled, cubed and seeded and is often used as stir fries, braised, soups, and boiled.

Orangetti Squash or Vegetable Spaghetti

It is considered as the relative of the spaghetti squash. It appears like a watermelon with smooth, golden skin. It has a stringy flesh which is cooked like other squashes.

Availability: Its peak season is from August to October.

Pattypan or Sunburst Squash or Baby Summer Squash

This come in three different colors that is: yellow, green and white. Theses squashes have a think skin with scalloped edges. The encased flesh is gentle and delicate. These can be used for garnishing or can be baked or cooked in oven or microwave or on the stove.

Availability: You can have them whole year, but the peak season is from May to August.

Pebbled or Warty

A little bumpy, crookneck squash, mostly used as decorative gourds without having any impact on taste.

Pumpkin

Pumpkins are known as the harbingers or announcers of autumn, especially for Halloween Jack O’ Lanterns and suggestive of pumpkin pie. Unlike other squashes, pumpkins are much drier, coarser and rich flavored. Pumpkins are widely known as their ornamental class. Some of the different varieties of pumpkins include: Jack-Be-Little, Lil-Pump-Kee-Mon, Wee-Be-Little, Gold Dust, and some of the white pumpkin varieties – Baby-Boo, Cotton Candy, Valenciano and others.

Availability: Pumpkins are available throughout the year but the peak season is from early fall to winter.

Red Kuri Squash or Uchiki Kuri Squash or Orange Hokkaido

It has a teardrop shape with a profound, sunset colored skin encased in which a butter-colored, smooth flesh. It tastes like chestnut which is unique and profound. It can be used with many other edible items. It is used to make a soup as well.

Availability: You can enjoy it all the year, but the best peak season is from late summer to early fall.

Spaghetti Squash or Vegetable Spaghetti

Spaghetti squash is shaped like watermelon. It is popular for its unique flesh which takes the form of long, blond, spaghetti-like strings or strands when cooked. Spaghetti squash can make a good substitute for regular spaghetti. The strands of squash are used in salads, casseroles, or can be eaten with sauce. It has a slight crisp, mellow flavor. The color of the skin shows how mature the squash. For instance, the brighter the yellow skin, more mature the squash.

Availability: Peak season is from early fall to winter. However, these are available year around.

Summer Squash

Summer squashes are usually thin skinned with moist flesh as they are rich in water content. The skin of the summer squashes is eatable and bruises comfortably. Major examples of summer squash include zucchini and yellow squash. You cannot store them for longer period of time, i.e. two weeks in refrigerator is enough time. These are usually available in white, yellow and green color.

Sweet Dumpling Squash

This squash is found in creamy or daffodil-colored skin which is having thick deep ribs. Ribs are usually marked with orange or green color. It has a sweet, gentle taste and can be best for roasting or baking for servings.

Availability: The ripening season is fall.

Turban or Turkish Turban Squash

Turban squash is named turban because of its resemblance to the sultan’s turban. It is available in some striking colors like white, red, orange, and green. Some varieties are available which combine all these four colors. Its taste is similar to hazelnut. Its large size enables you to use it as a bowl for servings such as soup.

Availability: Its peak season is from late summer to early fall; though, available in the market in all seasons.

Yellow Squash or Yellow Zucchini

There are so many varieties available of yellow squash which include: yellow zucchini, crookneck, pattypan, and straight-neck. The straightneck has straight shape while crookneck is known for its curved bottleneck. These squashes have a thin edible skin and have a mild, tender and sweet flavor.

Availability: These are available throughout the year.

Zucchini

It is known as the most popular summer squash. It has a versatile taste. You can eat it raw or used as a grilled, baked, and fried and sautéed form. You can also use it with salads, in pasta dishes, or in sandwiches. Some like to bake it along with bread and cake. If you want to enjoy its fresher taste always go for dark green, firm and glossy zucchini.

Availability: This is available throughout the year in the market.

TIPS

  • Don’t store squash near apples, avocados or passion fruit because these are all known as a good ripening agents.
  • In order to retain the moisture of the winter squashes, always store them with a 4-inch or longer stem, especially with acorn, turban, pumpkins, butternut and buttercup varieties.

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