A Green Thing Eaten Raw
The English word “squash” derives from askutasquash – literally “a green thing eaten raw“, a word from the Narragansett language, which was documented by Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, in his 1643 publication “A Key Into the Language of America”.
Similar words for squash exist in related languages of the Algonquian family such as Massachusett.
Though considered a vegetable in cooking, botanically speaking, squash is a fruit (being the receptacle for the plant’s seeds), and not a vegetable.
In fact, there is a fruit squash. Fruit squash is a concentrated sweetened fruit juice preparation which is diluted before drinking.
Squash Food Facts
In addition to the fruit, other parts of the plant are edible. Squash seeds can be eaten directly, ground into paste, or (particularly for pumpkins) pressed for vegetable oil. The shoots, leaves, and tendrils can be eaten as greens. The blossoms are an important part of native American cooking and are also used in many other parts of the world.
Spaghetti Squash: A gourd, also called cucuzzi, calabash, suzza melon; is often classed as summer squash but is not a true squash. Only after cooking does the flesh resemble spaghetti in appearance.
Squash is available all year. Soft-skinned types should be smooth and glossy. Hard-shelled should have firm rinds. Refrigerate all soft-skinned types and use within a few days.
Firm rind variety should be stored at room temperature. Buy squash that are hard and heavy with a dull skin.
Varieties of summer squash include chayote, patty pan, yellow crookneck, yellow straightneck and zucchini.
Varieties of winter squash include acorn, banana, buttercup, butternut, calabaza, delicate, golden nugget, hubbard, spaghetti, sweet dumpling, turban and pumpkin.
Winter squash develops more beta carotene after being stored than it has immediately after picking.
The smallest squash are usually the tastiest.
Courgette: A variety of marrow developed to be harvested when small; also known as Italian marrow, Italian squash or zucchini.
Squash is a good source of beta carotene, one of the best antioxidants.
Squash is low in calories, fat and sodium and a good source of fiber and potassium.
Perfectly Pumpkin Food Facts
To kill bacteria and fungi on pumpkins after you’ve cut them from the vine, mix three-quarters cup bleach and one gallon water. Dip the pumpkin in the solution. Then store the pumpkin in a cool, dry place.
Most Americans carve jack-o’-lanterns from Connecticut Field pumpkins, a direct descendant of the original pumpkins grown by Native Americans.
In his 1863 poem, “When the Frost Is on the Punkin“, James Whitcomb Riley wrote, “O, it sets my heart a clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock, when the frost is on the punkin’ and the fodder’s in the shock”.
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