Did you know that butternut squash is not even a vegetable? It is a fruit and a member of the winter squash family which would explain its sweet and nutty taste. Butternut squash (also known as butternut pumpkin in Australia and New Zealand) is a perfect addition to many recipes in the fall and winter when it is readily available. They are wonderful if roasted with other veggies, used in salads, pureed as a soup, added to a stew or even used in breads or desserts. As a word of warning they can be difficult to cut in half due to its tough exterior but it is oh so worth it!
Name: Butternut Squash
Varieties: There are multiple varieties of butternut squash grown worldwide but the most popular is the Waltham Butternut which originated in Watham, Massachusetts. In the squash family the veggies are categorized into summer squash and winter squash. Butternut squash is of the winter variety but is actually considered a fruit.
Season: Butternut squash is a winter squash and is at its peak from October through March. It is a fall and winter squash even though it is available year round and it stores well for long periods of time.
Heath Benefits: Like all fruits and vegetables butternut squash has many health benefits. Its bright orange color is caused by the high beta carotene levels present in the fruit which lowers the risk of developing asthma and colon cancer. The high fiber content regulates a healthy digestive system and helps to manage type 1 diabetes along with lowering sugar levels. Potassium lowers blood pressure to healthy levels and the high vitamin C and A contents maintain healthy skin and hair as well as promoting a healthy immune system.
Nutrients: Contains vitamins A, B, C and E as well as calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and potassium. One cup of butternut squash is about 82 calories.
How to store them: When selecting butternut squash at the grocery store or farmers’ market be sure to pick ones that have a hard rind and are heavy. Avoid ones that are damaged or soft. Store the squash in a cool dark place such as a pantry. The squash should last 2-3 months (historically it is supposed to feed a family through the winter). The more ripe the butternut squash becomes the sweeter and more orange the flesh will become.