Squash versus pumpkins

Very useful concepts learned from  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall :

The distinction between a squash and a pumpkin is not entirely clear, but, “..Squash are almost always delicious… pumpkins are generally orange.” As a general rule, be suspicious of anything larger than a melon, particularly in the run-up to Halloween. The larger the pumpkin, the more likely it will be flavorless, fibrous and watery.

Bell-shaped, parchment-coloured butternuts are the ubiquitous squashes in the UK, but for most of the year they’ll be imported.  In UK they’re harvested from September to November and can last through to February or March.

Don’t limit yourself to butternuts, though. Engage beautifully fluted, dark green acorn squash, the sweet and delicious onion or uchiki kuri squash and the round kabocha. The ghostly, blue/grey-skinned crown prince is a real favourite and a great all-rounder, while sweet mama lives up to its name. And small, round gem squashes are perfect for baking whole, the middles hollowed out and filled with bacon or cheese with nuts and herbs.

Squashes are easy to grow – though they take up a fair bit of space – and seeds are easy to save, so if you ever find yourself eating a squash that makes you think, “Yes, this is the squash for me”, it’s time to start rummaging in the bin or compost for its seeds. Just let them dry out in a warm place and save for sowing in May the next year.

Varieties differ in flavour and texture, but  you can make a superb soup or pasta dish with any variety (with the exception of spaghetti squash, which breaks up into noodle-like strands when cooked). They can all be roasted, too, cut into wedges, skin-on, sloshed generously with olive oil, partnered with a few bashed garlic cloves, and sprinkled with salt, pepper, chilli flakes and a few herbs such as bay, sage or thyme. Regardless of the squash you started with, take this approach and it will be hard not to produce a dish of glorious colour and deep flavours that will partner anything from pork chops or grilled fish to a bowl of salad leaves and a dish of lentils. Squashes are luscious, so grab ’em while you can.

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2 Responses to Squash versus pumpkins

  1. Krzyś says:

    Invaluable advice when one is standing in a field of squashes deciding what to pick!

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