Sep 6, 2010

What's the Deal with Gourds?

by Kiku Reidhead

Fall brings a different variety of fresh ingredients for your home cooking. One of the most common vegetables, or fruits rather, is the squash.  There are all kinds available at the local grocery store and each has unique uses and flavors.

id you know technically squash and other gourds with seeds are considered a fruit? This definition is derived from the fact that their insides are all full of seeds. That said however, most people refer to squash and other gourds as vegetables.

So let's talk about this fruit/vegetable. What is the difference between the summer and fall varieties of squash? Summer squash, like zucchini, has thin skin, usually edible, and soft seeds with watery insides. Winter squash on the other hand, like butternut squash, has thick, firm skin and requires longer cooking.

The peak of the winter squash season is October through November even though you can probably find them at the grocery store from August through March.
Gourds are good for many things - you can actually decorate for fall with colorful squash.  Of course they are good for eating too. You can boil, bake, roast or microwave squash, include it as an ingredient in a recipe or just eat it plain. Squash is a healthy side dish because it is full of vitamin A, C potassium, fiber, omega-3 fatty acid and low in calories. Winter squash has also been found to have contribute to long-term health, like helping prevent many types of cancer.

We listed the following types of winter squash to help you know what you are looking at when you shop, and what you might want to use for an upcoming dinner or event.

Butternut squash: Shaped like a large pear with cream-colored skin, deep orange-colored flesh and sweet flavor.

Acorn squash: Has green skin with orange speckles and pale orange flesh. It has a sweet, nutty flavor.

Hubbard squash: Fairly large. Has dark green, grey-blue skin and orange flesh. It is also sweet and can be substituted for almost any other winter squash.

Turban squash: Interesting shape and bright color make ideal for decorative squash. It has a bulbous pumpkin-like shape; green and white striped. Orange-yellow flesh tastes faintly like hazelnut.

Pumpkin: Comes in many varieties. Small size is known as sugar or pie pumpkin which is also the most commonly used form of pumpkin in fall recipes.
Take a look at our Pumpkin Usage article to see how gourds are good for more than food. Just the image of them spells Fall to many, so put them together to make a display. Try using them as decorations or cooking them using our tips.

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