Jan 28 2011

Fresh From the Market: Acorn Squash

I have to be honest:  I find acorn squash to be beautiful on the outside and lackluster on the inside.  I tend to see them more as decorative gourds than as anything edible.  I think my apathy towards this vegetable stems from a history of bland, boring meals, with acorn squash the feature.  As is often the case with portabella mushrooms, acorn squash are frequently listed as a restaurant menu's highlighted vegetarian option.

This usually means that an already bland, often out-of-season, squash is roasted to tastelessness and then heaped with rice or tomatoes or something, effectively rendering the squash a serving vessel for something else. Best of luck to whomever tries to actually eat the acorn squash!

The sleet and wind were in full force at Wednesday's Union Square Greenmarket and I was in desperate search of something beyond pears and apples.  Colorful carnival acorn squash were heaped at the front of Caradonna’s tent, their greens, yellows, and oranges a welcome bright spot on an otherwise freezing day. I picked up three pounds worth!

So, what separates acorn squash from other winter squashes?  Here’s a hint:  acorn squash is actually classified as a summer squash!  What does acorn squash need to do to knock butternut squash off of her throne of winter-time squash dominance?


Classified as a fruit vegetable, acorn squash is a member of the gourd family.   Along with corn and beans, the Native Americans cultivated squash long before the first colonists arrived.  Despite recent experiences to the contrary, all of my cookbooks and food blogs proclaim squash as a truly versatile vegetable.  I can certainly appreciate that statement when applied to butternut, kabocha, or patty pan squash.  But what about acorn squash?

Flavor Profile:

Acorn squash tastes both nutty and sweet.  It pairs well with honey, maple syrup, apples, and sausage.

In the Kitchen:

Choose firm squash with thick, smooth, and dull skin. It should feel heavy for its size, with no soft spots.  Depending on how long the squash have already been stored at the time of purchase (check with the farmer), you can store your acorn squash for a few weeks in a cool, well-ventilated place.

Remove the fibers and seeds from the center of the acorn squash before steaming, broiling or baking.  If you’re used to cooking with butternut squash, keep in mind that acorn squash cooks faster and is easier to chop than its butternut cousin!

Growing Season:

Acorn squash seeds are planted when frost season ends.  After germination, he squash is harvested within 85-90 days.   Acorn squash is in season between the Fall and late Winter (thanks to cold storage).

Interesting Links:

Ten Ways to Eat An Acorn Squash

An Acorn Squash Pinhole Camera

Check back soon to see the acorn squash recipe we made…and if my opinion towards acorn squash has changed for the better!

Sources: Wikipedia, The Produce Bible, The Kitchn, About.com