A handy guide to pumpkins and squash
Pumpkins are not just for Halloween lanterns. They are actually a delicious member of the winter squash family which include the popular butternut, acorn, crown prince and kabocha varieties to name a few. These unusual looking fruits are in season from October to December and come in multiple colours, shapes and sizes.
This guide will help you choose, prepare and cook them in simple recipes.
Which to buy?
- Large orange pumpkins and butternut squash are firm in texture and carry other flavours such as warm spices really well. Toss wedges with chilli and cumin like in this recipe for Roast Butternut Squash with Spicy Chick Peas
- Acorn squash are smaller and dark green with orange-yellow flesh and a sweet flavour. Ideal for mashing or stuffing.
- Crown prince squashes are large pumpkins with bluish-grey skins and orange flesh. They have a firm texture and nutty taste. Try them roasted in chunks.
- Japanese Kabocha squash are dark green and flat-ish. They are fluffy inside when baked and the perfect addition to soups and stews.
However most squashes can be interchanged in recipes so mix it up! Just make sure the skins are smooth and unblemished and they feel heavy for their size. Keep in a cool, dark place for up to two months.
How to prepare them
Place your pumpkin or squash on a chopping board with a damp tea towel underneath to stop the board slipping. With a large sharp or serrated knife trim off both ends then stand on one end and halve your squash right down the middle.
Cut your squash into quarters or manageable wedges and scoop out the seeds with a large metal spoon.
If the skin is not too thick then leave it on. It will be nice and chewy when eaten. If you prefer to remove the skin then use a Y shape speed peeler, or if it’s really tough remove it once cooked as it will be softer.
Use the seeds!
Wash and dry them, then sprinkle with Kikkoman Teriyaki Marinade before spreading out on an oiled baking tray in a medium oven for 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Use scattered over salads or as a snack.
- All winter squashes are suitable for cooking in the same ways. Try the following:
- Boiling them with other vegetables in stock for soups
- Mash with cooked carrots or sweet potato as a healthy topping for pies or as a side dish
- Roasting helps to caramelise them and brings out their sweetness.
- Throw chopped squash into curries and stews.
- Stuff with a rice pilaff or couscous and bake