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Winter Squash
Winter Squash

Winter squash are a member of the Curcurbitacea family along with the cucumber, watermelon, muskmelons, summer squash & gourds. Curcurbita genus includes 4 species: maxima, mixta, moschata, and pepo. This includes both summer and winter squash; but most summer are pepo while most winter are maxima. Sometimes the difference between winter and summer squash is just how long left on the vine to mature.

The name squash comes from the Indian word askutasquash meaning "eaten raw". But unlike summer squash, winter squash must be cooked and the skin is usually hard and inedible. Winter squash gets its name because it's harvested at end of summer and can be stored to last through the winter. All types come in various sizes, shapes and colors.

This glorious vegetable is believed to be a native to North, Central, and South America. Archeological expeditions to Mexico date cultivation of some pepo types to 8000BC. A staple of Native Americans for over 5000 years, it is believed to be first food cultivated by Native Americans along with beans and corn, one of the "three sisters".

Winter Squash is usually available year-round, but best in early fall through winter. Choose squash with stem attached and no bruises or soft spots. Squash whose stems were cut too close can suffer early decay. They should also feel very heavy for its size. You don't have to keep it in the refrigerator but rather in a cool, dark place for a month or more.

This vegetable is very healthy! They are very high in complex carbs, fiber, potassium, niacin, iron, beta-carotene, vitamins A and C. Look for these varieties in your local stores now: Acorn, Delicata, Spaghetti, Butternut, Hubbard, Butttercup, and Gold Nugget.