By SIVAN FRASER
Pumpkin … it’s everywhere and it’s nowhere, and I’m having an existential crisis, knowing there’s no pumpkin in my Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte! This only inspired me to discover the varieties of winter squash growing in our community gardens, local farms and in neighbors’ back yards.
I wanted to give them their due, so I attended a blind tasting of nine squash at a contemporary food-design workshop called “Make Thyme for a New Squash” by Nina Kauder at The Box Gallery in West Palm Beach. Because it’s important that everyone is familiar with the different types of squash, I present you with a guide to winter squash.
Guide to Winter Squash and Pumpkin Varieties
- A hybrid of acorn and sweet dumpling squash that boasts the acorn squash’s tender-firm texture along with the sweet, nutty flavor of the dumpling.
- Savory and sweet notes make it perfect for cooking or baking.
- Enjoy with a hard cider.
- This teardrop-shaped squash can have bright-red, deep-gold or blue peel, and will be regal as a gourd on any holiday table.
- Complex flavors: buttery-rich and creamy, easily replaces mashed potatoes.
- Like a dense sweet potato that’s flirting with a hint of green grapes.
- Highlight its nuttiness paired with toasted pecans and wild rice. Serve with blue-cheese crumbles for the vegetarian at your table.
- Widely used across Asia; silky when fried in tempura, stewed, or used in desserts.
- Similar to a pleasantly nutty, roasted chestnut.
- For that perfect umami balance, pair with miso.
- Upon simply roasting and tasting my sample, I proposed to the farmer, Linda Hart of Brevard County’s’ Crazy Hart Ranch, begging her to grab her harvest and run away with me!
- Can be eaten in all stages: steamed when young, baked when mature; and the male flowers are especially good when stuffed and batter-fried.
- The longer they sit on the shelf, the sweeter and deeper orange they get as starches convert to sugar, becoming twice as sweet as canned pumpkin – bakers, adjust accordingly!
- Cut the pumpkin in half so you can scrape out and save the seeds for sharing, planting, or roasting for a delicious snack. Win/win!
- Roast until caramelized, allowing natural sweetness to take over.
- This colorful variety tastes like a hot, baked apple.
- Pairs exceptionally well with cinnamon.
- Wonderful with an everyday Riesling.
- Though related to the prized buttercup squash, the Turban’s best feature is its exuberant exterior.
- Its watery pulp is better-suited to soups than to baking.
- Match with a Nouveau Beaujolais that you’re eager to open.
- Delicata, creamier than a butternut squash, matches well with onion, thyme, maple, and even Dijon mustard.
Every winter squash variety is more than worth its weight in gold. Each has beta-carotene to protect your vision, and might also reduce cancer and heart-disease risks; and enough fiber to keep you feeling satisfied for hours.
Regular consumption of cinnamon, often paired with winter squash, can lower blood sugar, help digestion, ease arthritis and is a potent antioxidant.
Here’s to more produce, cooking with pumpkins and fewer Pumpkin Spice Lattes!