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I've been blogging over at Our Sleeping Flowers these days. Still me, and still delicious, come join me!

Sunday evening we had an incredible dinner with some of the most inspiring people. Amongst the chatter of introductions, family updates, offers of help, and talk of tapping local maples, I overheard someone say they had foregone sleep on account of a discussion about squash. winter squash. It made me smile, knowing I was surrounded by kindred spirits. I thought about the numberless conversations I've had about my favorite foods and was glad we were spending the evening with fellow foodies. There's comfort in being surrounded by people with like minds, you become instant friends, find inspiration in similar places, and share like obsessions.

I have created this small guide for you on the subject of the culprit, winter squash. It is incomplete because it doesn't cover every possible variety (there are hundreds). However the ones highlighted may be found at your local market, or maybe in your own garden these days. However with the snow that has frosted the tips of our neighboring ranges, there are likely fewer and fewer edibles available in local garden.

These particular squash are grown at Jacob's Cove Heritage Farm. They let me pick one of each so I could share this guide with you, recipes included. There are so many lovely things to do with squash, I will be adding to this guide periodically, especially as I share new recipes with you and slowly but surely make my way through eating these beautiful vegetables.

So let me introduce you, in no particular order.

The sugar pumpkin, or pie pumpkin is probably the most popular and most used edible pumpkin. It is best for baking because the flesh is thick, smooth, naturally sweet and not as watery as the larger jack-o-lantern varieties. You can use it in sweet and savory dishes and just about any meal or drink.

recipes: roasted pumpkinpumpkin soup; pumpkin oatmeal; pumpkin biscuits; pumpkin butter; pumpkin cardamom rolls; substitute in buttercup squash risotto.

acorn squash is creamy and smooth, sweet and buttery, and a little nutty. For the best sweetness, wait at least two weeks after they have been harvested to use.

roast them in the oven, or even in the microwave. You can eat them directly after cooking, filled with a little butter, brown sugar/maple syrup and toasted pecans. Stuff them with cooked and seasoned gratins, use the flesh to make soup, or use it in place of pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potato in any recipe. After you use the flesh, acorn squash rinds are great to use as bowls, try it for a soup course at Thanksgiving.

recipes: substitute in roasted garlic and butternut squash soup, sweet potato leek soup, and pumpkin soup, add roasted squares to autumn soup, substitute in pumpkin cardamom rolls, and even in pumpkin biscuits.

Australian blue pumpkins are stunning. The soft blue-green hue is incredible and the shape is nearly perfect. They are edible, and also store well. For storage, keep pumpkin in a cool dry area up to one month, or refrigerate for up to 3 months. Use like you would any pumpkin or squash, toasting the seeds and roasting the flesh.

recipes: use in soups, breads, pies, cakes, both savory and sweet dishes. see sugar pumpkin and cinderella pumpkin for specific recipes.

buttercup squash has a sweet mild taste that is reminiscent of a sweet potato. Roast as any other winter squash, and eat plain or use as a substitute for pumpkin or sweet potato.

recipes: buttercup squash risotto; sweet potato curry; sweet potato couscous; baked sweet potato fries; sweet potato leek soup.

Marina di chioggia is an italian seaside variety of pumpkin that is not well known here in the states, but beloved in it's hometown of Chioggia. It can be used like other pumpkins, the flesh roasted and used in varied recipes and the seeds toasted and eaten as a snack.

recipes: roast, use in gnocchi, ravioli, soups, pies, etc. see other pumpkins and buttercup squash for specific recipes.

Cinderella pumpkins or red etampes, are thus called because they resemble the pumpkin chosen and magically transformed into a carriage for the future princess. They are edible, but are popularly used as decoration. The flesh is sweet, although not quite as creamy as the sugar pumpkin, likely because of the size. Be sure to puree the flesh well after roasting.

recipes: pumpkin pie, sweet pumpkin dishes, see sugar pumpkin recipes.

Delicata squash, or Bohemian squash are excellent for stuffing and baking because they hold their shape well. Their flesh is thin and edible, unlike the other squash mentioned here, and they are often called the sweet potato squash so can substitute it in many recipes. Because of their thinner skin, they should not be left in storage quite as long and other squash types, just be sure to check it often.

recipes: prepare and use as you would the acorn squash or sweet potato, stuff with grains meats or cheese, roast and eat with butter and toasted pecans, braise, steam, stew, or boil and add in soups or purees. Try adding these to your mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving.

Decorative gourds include most any squash although specifically I mean the miniature gourds that are difficult to eat, like those mini pumpkins small enough for a toddler to hold confidently in their hands, and then throw a few feet in front of them.

Because of their size, they are not used for consumption but rather for functional purposes including decor. some gourds are used for instrumental purposes; as the gourd dries, the seeds that are trapped inside make it a natural percussion instrument. Gourds were the earliest plant species domesticated by humans and originally used by people as containers or vessels before clay or stone pottery and are therefore sometimes referred to as "nature's pottery". They are also used in art.

I remember my mother cutting holes in gourds and drying them, although I cannot remember what she used them for. I like to think we used them as birdhouses, but I could be way off.

recipes: no edible recipes, use them as decoration or try drying them.

Japanese nest egg gourds were highly popular in the 1800s and are also called easter egg plants. The reason is because the gourds are the size and shape of a hen’s egg, and white in color. They were used as nest eggs; to trick hens by placing them in their nests and although they are often compared to eggplants, they are actually from the potato family. There are two varieties, one growing edible fruit (S. melongena) and the other growing inedible fruit (S. ovigerum) {source} The type grown and harvested by Jacob's Cove is the edible type.

recipes: try pickling them, use them to fool your chickens, or as decoration.

Kabocha squash, pronounced kah-BOH-chah, are also called ebisu, delica, hoka and Japanese squash or Japanese pumpkin. They have a firm dry flesh that is well used in soups and stews. It can also be used as a tureen or bowl to serve a separately prepared soup.

recipes: roast, and substitute in sweet potato leek soup, pumpkin soup, and roasted garlic and butternut squash soup, cookies, pies and cakes.

To use as a tureen, clean out the seeds and stringy material, brush with butter, and bake flesh side down. Only partially bake the shell so it will hold its shape when filled with hot soup. After using them, finish baking the squash and use it in other dishes. {source}

Kakai pumpkins are a dark striped variety that yields the valuable green pumpkin seed oil that some European studies show promotes prostate health. They are also prized for their hull-less (or naked) seeds, meaning they don't have a covering that you have to crack open before enjoying the seed. The squash themselves can be stored for a long time in a cool, dry location.

recipes: toasted pumpkin seeds, roast the flesh and use in soups and savory dishes.

Red Kuri squash has a hard outer skin there and inside is a firm flesh that provides a very delicate and mellow flavor similar to the taste of chestnuts. It can be used in soups, breads, cakes, desserts, vegetable tarts, blinis, pancakes, lasagna, risotto, vegetable stews and gratins. It is also called Japanese squash, Orange Hokkaido or Uchiki Kuri squash.

recipes: substitute or add to any recipe that calls for pumpkin or another firm skinned squash. Be sure to bake it flesh side down, or covered with parchment paper and foil so the flesh does not dry out.

Butternut squash is likely my favorite winter squash. It's flesh is firm, rich and buttery, mild, and delicious paired with other vegetables and an added accent of dried fruit. It also has the longest storage potential of any other winter squash. If left in a cool dry place, butternut squash could last the winter through, just be sure to check it every once in a while for aging and use before it becomes soft.

recipes: roasted garlic and butternut squash soup; substitute in pumpkin biscuits, roast in small squares and serve with caramelized onions and currants over a bed of greens, substitute in any recipe calling for pumpkin or another winter squash with creamy flesh, especially in savory dishes.

have a question? email me or post one here.

sources and research help: {1,2,3,4,5}

and another timely tip: safe pumpkin carving tips for this weekend

**this post will periodically be added to through the coming months, years, etc. Check back often for changes and new recipes.


  1. Jen,
    Your food blog is so aesthetically pleasing. I love your photos almost as much as your recipes! Keep up the great work, this is one of my favorite blogs to wander onto!!

  2. This might be my favorite post of the season. Beautifully written and artistically composed!

  3. This is so great! I am a Jacob's Cove member and this guide is perfect! You have gorgeous photos too! Thanks for this!