Winter squash are harvested late summer through fall, then cured or “hardened off” in open air to toughen their exterior. This process ensures the squash will keep for months without refrigeration. When selecting any variety of winter squash, the stem is the best indication of ripeness. Stems should be tan, dry and on some varieties, look fibrous, frayed or corky. Fresh green stems or those leaking sap signal that the squash was harvested before it was completely ripe. Ripe squash has a vivid, saturated color and a matte, rather than glossy, finish.
Mild, versatile flavor and a tender-firm texture that holds up well when cooked. A hard rind helps Acorn squash hold its shape when baked.
Best uses: baked, stuffed, cubed and added to grain salads
This huge squash is perfect for feeding a crowd! Bright orange flesh has a buttery, nutty flavor and a dry, flaky texture similar to baked potato.
Best uses: baked, mashed and topped with butter, sea salt and black pepper
Vivid orange flesh is sweet and slightly nutty with a smooth texture that falls apart as it cooks. Rind is edible but squash is usually peeled before use.
Best uses: soups, purees, recipes where smooth texture is highlighted
This hybrid squash inherits its tender-firm texture from Acorn and its sweet, nutty flavor from Sweet Dumpling, offering the best of both parents.
Best uses: baked, stuffed, broiled with brown sugar
Rich, sweet, flavorful yellow flesh tastes like a mix of chestnuts, corn and sweet potato. Quick-cooking with a thin, edible skin. Highly seasonal.
Best uses: sauteéd until caramelized, broiled, baked
Smooth, dense, intensely yellow flesh that is similar in sweetness and texture to sweet potato.
Best uses: curries, soups, battered and fried as Japanese tempura
Mildly sweet squash with a rich pumpkin flavor, perfect for pies and baked goods. Different from carving pumpkins, these are bred for sweetness and size.
Best uses: pies, custards, baked goods, curries and stews
Vivid orange, mildly sweet and smooth, dense squash with a delicious chestnut-like flavor. Makes a rich and velvety pureé.
Best uses: Thai curries,soups, pilafs and gratins, baked goods
Pale golden interior is stringy and dense – in a good way! Use a fork to pry apart cooked flesh which resembles spaghetti in texture and mild flavor.
Best uses: baked and separated, then dressed as you would pasta
Petite, softball-sized squash with a pale gold, dry starchy flesh that is similar to a potato but which is renowned for its rich, honey-sweet flavor.
Best uses: baked with butter and cinnamon