Squash: More than a fall decoration

Learn about the varieties and nutrients of various squash.

Fall is officially here which means that fall vegetable crops are now being harvested and showing up at the grocery stores and farmer’s markets. One vegetable that arrives in mass varieties is winter squash. Squash is natively grown in America.

The Nibble squash glossary says that the word “squash” is derived from “askutasquash,” which means “a green thing eaten raw” in the language of the Nahahiganseck Sovereign Nation, the native Americans who controlled the area surrounding Narragansett Bay in present-day Rhode Island, portions of Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts. The squash is versatile out east as well as in Michigan and other neighboring Great-Lakes states.

Winter squash comes in shapes round and elongated, scalloped and pear-shaped with flesh that ranges from golden-yellow to brilliant orange. Most winter squashes are vine-type plants whose fruits are harvested when fully mature. Winter squash takes longer to mature than summer squash (three months or more) and are best harvested once the cool weather of fall sets in. They can be stored for months in a cool basement-hence the name winter squash.

Squash is a popular choice for fall decorations these days due to their vibrant color, shapes and textures. Many are sitting outside along the traditional jack-o’-lantern. Besides using them for decorating, try consuming them for their health benefits:

  • Depending on the variety, a half-cup of squash ranges from 50 to 125 calories.
  • In one 4-ounce serving, squash provides 20 percent or more of your recommended daily value of magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, C and E (vitamin E is found in the seeds).
  • Squash is also a good source (10 percent or more of your recommended daily value) of calcium.
  • High in nutrients and flavor, squash is also remarkably high in antioxidants and beta-carotene.

The squash varieties commonly found in Michigan are Acorn, Butternut, Carnival, Buttercup, Hubbard, Kabocha (also known as a Ebisu, Delica, Hoka, Hokkaido, or Japanese Pumpkin), and Spaghetti (also called vegetable spaghetti, vegetable marrow or noodle squash). Try a variety or two this fall to determine which you like the most.

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