You've got to know when to hold 'em

roasted squash

The days are getting shorter and colder in much of the Northern Hemisphere right now, and that means winter squash are coming into the markets and finding their way to our dinner tables. Although many different varieties are lumped together under the term "winter squash", they are not all created equal. Julia Rosen of NPR's The Salt describes how different varieties of squash ripen at different rates, and  explains when it's the best time to eat each variety.

Like other fruits such as pears, squash continue to ripen after they are picked. Michael Mazourek, a plant geneticist and breeder at Cornell University, says "Once a squash is harvested, it's still very much alive." Since they are still converting starches into sugars as they sit, waiting for the best balance between the two will result in the best flavor and texture. Not only do squash taste better after they age, they get more nutritious, too.

Squash like green acorn squash and striped delicata squash don't have a lot of starch to convert, so it's best to eat them quickly. Round squash like Hubbard have the most starch and last the longest. Butternut squash falls somewhere in the middle. The article provides rules of thumb for choosing squash, and notes the different time periods when you can expect to find the best in-season varieties.

Photo of  Roasted squash with cranberries & thyme from Vegetable of the Day (Williams-Sonoma) by Kate McMillan

1 Comment

  • Radish  on  10/28/2016 at 8:09 AM

    I do not thank you often enough for this blog. You do a wonderful job here. I read you every day. I have my own blog www.cooksallycook.com . I have many, many cookbooks, a lot of which I have purchased through your influence. And of course you really help me find recipes that I already own in my library. More love to you. Sally

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