Fall is finally here, which means dropping temperatures; nature preening in shades of gold, orange, and red; and gathering around for the holidays. It also means decorating, and cooking with, the seasonal produce family known as winter squash.
The scientific Latin name for the group is cucurbitaceae, which includes plants like cucumber and watermelon, as well as the ones colloquially identified as gourds, like squash, pumpkin, and zucchini. Here, we’ll discuss the ones that are specifically in their prime through fall.
Winter squash (as opposed to summer squash) is the name of the group that is harvested during September and October. These are all the seasonal gourds that are best for decorating, and the pumpkins that are fit for eating. From the jack-o’-lantern pumpkins that are traditionally carved to sweet butternut squash, many serve as both ornament and food, while some should just be one or the other. We’ve broken down the 12 most popular types of winter squash, so you know exactly what to do with each.
While the large pumpkins you find in patches beside a corn maze are grown specifically for fall decorations, aka jack-o’-lanterns, they’re definitely still edible—even if a bit more watery and less flavorful than pumpkins grown specifically for cooking.
As the name suggests, Cinderella pumpkins are gorgeous. Flattened and more rounded, they’re also sweet and moist, which makes them perfect candidates for pie.
These teeny tiny gourds are best used for autumnal decorating of tables and front stoops.
Perfect for a tabletop or desktop presentation, these handheld pumpkins are not exactly fit for consumption.
These little fruits are adorable, colorful, and warty. Use them to adorn interior surfaces for seasonal festivity only.
Just for cooking
While you are free to decorate your stoop or table with whatever it is that brings you joy, there are a few that are far more delicious than they are aesthetically interesting.
This bright yellow orb is not much to look at, but it’s interior is long, thin, and spaghetti-like and great to cook with. Scoop it out and eat it as a pasta alternative with your favorite sauce.
Sweet Georgia Candy Roaster Squash
Large, long, and a bit awkward looking, this squash has a flavor that is sweet and unique. The flavor intensifies the longer it’s stored, so it’ll turn candy-like if you roast it after letting it age a while.
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