The squash, in all of its forms, from A-corn to Z-ucchini have been enjoyed in North America since before the Europeans arrived. In fact, the Native Americans grew squash together with corn and beans on little hills because they discovered the plants grew healthier when planted this way.
For many beginning gardeners, dropping in a few squash seeds is a natural because it if the fruit it produces is plentiful and they are easy to grow. Any of the varieties of squash – whether winter or summer – pack a nutritional punch with fiber, beta carotene, Vitamins A and C and protein.
Squash is a fruit that comes from the gourd family and sometimes comes with the confusing moniker – summer or winter – squash. In actuality, squash is plentiful year round. “Summer” squash are on the shelves all winter and “winter” squash is available in grocery stores and farmers’ markets in the late summer, fall, and winter.
Did you know:
- Squash is officially a fruit and the smaller the squash, the more flavorful it will be.
- The winter varieties produce more beta carotene after storage than when the squash is fresh from the vine.
- When spaghetti squash is cooked, it forms delicious strands that can be covered with your favorite spaghetti sauce or just butter and salt.
- The sweet dumpling squash is so sweet that all you have to do is remove the top and the seeds, bake whole and serve with butter and cinnamon as a dessert.
- Many parts of the squash plant, besides its flesh, are edible including the seeds, leaves, tendrils, shoots and flowers.
- The tradition of lighting candles inside a carved pumpkin at Halloween is originally from Ireland where lit vegetables were hung in the window to ward off Jack O’ Lantern, a wayward soul condemned by the devil to walk the earth for all eternity.
- George Washington, the first U. S. president, loved to grow squash.
- The entire part of the squash is edible including the leaves and shoots which can be put into soups or stews.
(list courtesy of www.groovyvegetarian.com)
We’re lucky in Arizona to have access to squash practically year round! There are so many varieties of squash to choose from that you simply need to go to a farmers’ market to find one of your favorites. To find a farmers market, local producer or squash recipe, go to our website at FillYourPlate.org and search for “squash” or “zucchini.”
Stay tuned for our next installment on squash where we’ll talk about food holidays, preparing and cooking squash and further discussion on the many varieties of this flavorful, versatile fruit!