Squash--in All Sizes, Shapes and Colors--Are Available Year-Round
Question: Can you please give me information on all the different kinds of squash that are now available in the supermarkets. I can’t believe there are so many different kinds.
Answer: Yes, there really is a bonanza of squash now available. The terms summer and winter , often used when describing squash, are really inaccurate because summer squash are available all year and winter squash are available in late summer and autumn. Better terms might be soft-skinned and hard-shelled squash.
Here’s a list, from acorn to zucchini, compiled with the assistance of Jan DeLyser, executive vice president of the Fresh Produce Council, a locally based trade group. We believe it includes most of the varieties you’ll find in local supermarkets.
Acorn-- hard-shelled variety, shaped like an acorn, weighing between one and three pounds. The exterior has deep ridges and may be very dark green or orange; the flesh is amber, mildly sweet and slightly fibrous.
Banana-- nearly cylindrical, but pointed at both ends. Since it may range in weight from 10 pounds to 70 pounds, this squash is often sold in pieces. The hard shell may be moderately smooth to obscurely wrinkled and pock-marked, and pale olive gray changing to creamy pink in color. This squash has slightly sweet, creamy, yellow-orange flesh.
Buttercup-- hard-shelled, with a turban-like cap at the blossom end. Shaped somewhat drum-like, with sides slightly tapering near the apex. Deep ivy-green, marked with uneven, narrow stripes the same color as the cap. Weight may range from 1 1/2 to six pounds. The medium-sweet orange flesh is fine-textured, creamy and mild.
Butternut-- nearly cylindrical in shape with a slightly bulbous base. May weigh between two and five pounds. Has a smooth, hard shell ranging in color from light creamy brown to dark yellow. The creamy-textured flesh is yellow or orange.
Calabaza-- bright orange flesh inside; green, yellow or cream-colored exterior that may be mottled, speckled or striated. This variety is roundish in shape, with a relatively smooth, hard shell.
Chayote-- also known as mango squash or vegetable pear, this is a small variety, weighing only 1/2 to one pound. The deeply ridged surface is typically apple green and slightly lumpy, although there are numerous varieties, some of which have spines. The flesh is pale, crisp and fine textured. There’s a single flat seed in the center, which is edible. Peel after baking or steaming.
Delicata-- actually an old variety that has been rediscovered. Oblong, from six to nine inches in length and two to three inches in diameter. May weigh as little as six ounces or as much as three pounds. Lightly ridged surface is ivory, mottled and striped with dark green. The pulp is yellow, fine, moist and creamy.
Hubbard-- hard-shelled misshapen squash that’s pale gray to green-colored on the outside. The orange flesh is sweet and creamy.
Kabocha-- Japanese globe-shaped squash. The hard shell is rough, dark green and mottled with paler, uneven strips or markings, while the rich, sweet, almost fiber-less flesh is yellow-orange and fine-grained. Weight ranges from one to seven pounds.
Pattypan-- soft-skinned, disk-shaped squash also called scallops. They’re typically two to four inches in diameter with light green skin and mild, creamy green tinged flesh.
Pumpkin-- numerous varieties ranging in size from miniatures weighing a few ounces to others over a hundred pounds. Smaller varieties are prefered for eating, larger ones for decorative purposes. Exterior colors include orange, white and blue. Interior flesh is orange.
Scallopini-- soft-skinned variety that is a cross between zucchini and summer squash. They look similar to pattypan, but are plumper and have darker green skins. Mild, sweet-flavored flesh.
Spaghetti-- oblong, with pale to bright yellow semi-soft shells (a cross between the soft-skinned and hard-shelled varieties). An average squash weighs three to four pounds. The pale yellow flesh separates into strands after cooking, giving this variety its name.
Sunburst-- bright yellow, soft-skinned variety similar to pattypan, but shaped more like a top.
Sweet dumpling-- small, squatty squash weighing under one pound. Cream colored with shallow lobes. Indented areas are striped in mottled green. The flesh is pale yellow and smooth-textured.
Turban-- a flattened round squash with three knobs on the top. Hard-shelled, usually bright orange with green and white streaks. The flesh is also bright orange.
Yellow crookneck-- a soft-skinned variety with a swan shaped neck. Larger at the apex than at the base. The skin is moderately warted, light yellow at the early edible stage, turning to deeper color in the mature stage. The flesh is creamy yellow.
Yellow straightneck-- similar to the yellow crookneck, but relatively straight.
Zucchini-- also called Italian squash. Typically cylindrical, straight and slim. A soft-skinned squash, usually with green skin, although there are also golden zucchini. The mild-flavored flesh is cream colored in the green varieties, pale yellow in the golden varieties.
Address questions on food preparation to You Asked About . . . Food Section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Personal replies cannot be given.
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