Throughout the year there is an abundance of squash to choose from in Canada. We are fortunate to be able to cook with favourites like butternut or acorn squash just about any time of year.
In the fall, which is the peak season for squash, we see an influx of varieties, including many that you may not be familiar with. Here’s everything you need to know about the different varieties of squash that are available in Canada.
Named for its distinctive acorn-like shape, this squash belongs to the winter squash family but it is available year-round. It has a hard but edible skin with a mildly sweet, nutty flavoured flesh.
Most acorn squash are dark green with flecks of orange, however they can also be found in yellow and white (called white swan) varieties. All varieties are small in size, and contain delicious orange-yellow flesh, which is rich in beta-carotene and high in fiber.
Acorn squash can be enjoyed in a variety of ways including baked, sautéed and stuffed. When steamed or boiled, they have a creamy texture when mashed or added to soups. Be sure to cut in half or slice to remove the skin, as peeling is difficult.
Best Preparation Method: Perfect for roasting or baking, delicious stuffed
Try this recipe: Sausage and Barley Stuffed Acorn Squash
Butternut Squash has a naturally sweet flavour, and is one of the most popular varieties of winter squash (which is available all year long). Although different varieties of butternut squash are available, they vary little in appearance and are not sold by variety (like apples are). They all have a smooth pale skin with very few seeds and an orange flesh which is rich in vitamin A and C. The deeper the colour of the flesh, the sweeter the flavour.
Common butternut squash varieties are the Waltham, the Butter Boy, the Burpee’s Butterbush and the Autumn Glow.
Best Preparation Method: Perfect for roasting and sautéing, excellent when used in soup, risotto, gnocchi and ravioli.
Try this Recipe: Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese
This squash is sometimes referred to as a sweet potato squash, because its creamy texture and mild flavour is similar to the spud. It resembles a large cucumber in size and girth. The yellow skin has dark green stripes, and is edible (no peeling required).
Best Preparation Method: Roast or bake like a sweet potato
Try this recipe: Delicata Squash Bake with Tahini Sauce
The Hubbard squash is one of the largest varieties of winter squash, typically weighing anywhere from 8 to 20 lbs. This durable squash has a hard, bluish-grey skin, or orange skin, and a tapered shape. The flesh is dense, and has a sweet and savoury flavour. The skin is not edible.
Another variety of hubbard squash is red kuri squash: it’s another Japanese variety of squash. This lopsided squash has a thick orange skin, which can be eaten. This squash can be tricky to peel, so try cooking it with the skin on, or cutting the squash in half before attempting to cut off the peel. The flavour can range from chestnut-like to a flavour similar to sweet potatoes.
Best Preparation Method: Blend into soup or roast and top with butter
Try this recipe: Roasted Red Kuri Squash with Cannellini Bean Salad
Best Preparation Method: Best pureed for pie filling or mashed.
Try this recipe: Brown Sugar Squash Pie
Kabocha is a Japanese variety of squash that is squat and round. It has a dull, dark green skin with flecks of light green or yellow, and bright yellow-orange flesh. This squash has a very sweet nutty flavour, with a soft smooth texture. Sweet Mama is a hybrid kabocha squash variety, which can be found in supermarkets in the fall.
Best Preparation Method: Great for roasting or steaming, is excellent for tempura, soups or pie filling.
Try this recipe: Roasted Kabocha Squash with Cumin Salt
Orange Ambercup Squash
This squash resembles a small pumpkin with orange skin. It has a bright orange flesh, with a dry sweet flavour. The skin is not edible.
Best Preparation Method: Perfect for roasting, serve as a side dish
Try this recipe: Roasted Ambercup Squash with Brown Butter
When spaghetti squash is cooked, the flesh develops spaghetti-like strands, which is how this squash gets its name. It’s part of the gourd family, and is a winter squash, although it is available year-round. Spaghetti squash can be used as a substitute for pasta, or added to sauces and salads. The skin is not edible.
Stripetti Squash is a hybrid spaghetti squash variety, which has been crossed with a Delicata. Like other spaghetti squash It’s skin is not edible, however the flesh tastes similar to a sweet potato.
Best Preparation Method: Roast, then scrape out the strands and use like pasta
Try this recipe: Southwestern Spaghetti Squash
Sweet Dumpling Squash
This small squash is the perfect size for one individual portion, and can be either white and green, or white and orange in colour. The flesh of this squash tastes like a sweet potato and can be prepared like one. The skin is not edible.
Best Preparation Method: Treat like a baked potato and bake, mash, roast or blend into soups
Try this recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash
Although this squash is considered to be a decorative squash, it is actually edible. It’s unique turban shape and bumpy exterior can range in colour from greenish hues to orange-yellow.
It has a very mild, hazelnut-like flavour and can be prepared like most winter squash varieties. The skin is not edible.
Best Preparation Method: Roast and blend into soup
Try this recipe: Roasted Turban Squash with Grapefruit, Pomegranate and Feta