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What Is Delicata Squash?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2014
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One of the most prized winter squash varieties is the delicata squash, which is oblong and yellow in color, featuring an attractive green or green and orange-striped pattern. Several growers rescued the squash from obscurity in the early 1990s. It had been popular in the US in the late 19th century, but gradually fell out of favor because its skin is a little more delicate than other winter squash variants, making it harder to ship. Its reintroduction pleased winter squash lovers and its creamy texture and extraordinary sweetness earned it nicknames like the sweet potato squash.

Though people may be able to obtain the delicata squash many parts of the year, it’s usually considered a fall harvest vegetable, and thus is easiest to find and is freshest in the Western Hemisphere from late August through approximately November. It will keep for months, provided it is stored carefully. A thinner skin is still good protection for the squash, and is heartier than the skin on must summer squash variants.

Sizes of the delicata squash may vary, and oblong-shaped squash is about six to eight inches (15.24-20.32 cm) in length. This vegetable is relatively dense. People can expect weights of about one to two pounds (453.59-907.18 g). As with most winter squashes, the center of the squash has seeds and extra fibrous material that need to be scooped out before the squash is prepared.

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There are numerous ways to prepare delicata squash. Baking and steaming are natural choices, and some people also utilize the microwave for quicker cooking. Though some people suggest the skin is edible, most people either peel it off or discard it.

The shape of the squash is perfect for any type of stuffed squash meal, and delicious dishes can be made with things like sausage and apple stuffing. The sweet taste of the squash is often considered without peer, and people may use delicata squash as a great substitute for things like pumpkin in pumpkin pie recipes. The dense texture is just as good as pumpkin or hubbard squash for this purpose.

The density of the squash also makes it an excellent alternative in any type of winter squash ravioli or soup, and the sweetness means people can eat it very plainly too, perhaps just baked or steamed and topped with a little butter. No matter how it is prepared, delicata squash is an excellent source of nutrition. It is high in vitamin A and vitamin C and relatively low in calories.

When searching for the delicata squash, shoppers are advised to make sure they get squash that truly is of this kind. The attractive look of the vegetable has led to production of a number of yellow striped squashes that are just as pretty but may be inferior in sweetness and density. Also, it's recommended to buy this squash in season because even though it can keep for a while, it may lose some of its quality over time.

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