Acorn Squash

Stack of Acorn Squash

The acorn squash is a member of the squash family. As expected, it is shaped like an acorn. It grows on a vine or bush depending on the variety. It generally has dark green skin that gets more orange or yellow as it moves past ripening. Because it ripens in the late fall, it is considered a "winter squash".

All squash are colloquially refered to as a vegetable. Scientifically called Cucurbita pepo acorn squash are classified by botanists as a fruit. This is because the part most likely to be eaten is a fleshy portion surrounding the seed. Even so, any part of the squash plant is edible. In fact, the flowers are considered a delicacy when fried.

The rudiments of how to grow acorn squash: Hoe up small hills approximately six feet apart. Plant 4 or 5 seeds in each hill after all danger of frost, keep well-watered. Each vine will produce many squash which can be harvested in the fall.

Acorn squash has a distinctive flavor that can be accentuated with basic salt and pepper. Cooking with acorn squash can be as simple or elaborate as a cook may desire. Recipes for acorn squash abound. Nevertheless, one simple recipe seems to be eternally popular. Simply cut a squash in half, remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut each half in half again. Place skin side down on a baking dish, add butter, salt, and pepper. Pop in the oven at 400 for about an hour and 15 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Serve in the skin. To eat simply scoop out the flesh with a spoon or fork.

The health benefits of acorn squash are many. This squash has good concentrations of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. It also contains vitamins B and C, magnesium, and manganese. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber.

Accorn squash originated in the Western Hemisphere. The pre-Columbian settlers of the New World are fundamental to the history of the acorn squash. It was considered by them to be an important food source. It was actually thought to be a very hard melon by the earliest settlers. Today, it is grown and eaten all over the world.

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