Winter squash is a pretty exciting and diverse food for those that are willing to experiment. From butternut squash to acorn, winter squash can take on various different flavors. One key to all dishes that include winter squash is to be sure you pick it fresh. Picking out the best winter squash is not always easy to do, however. It certainly helps to know what to look for and what to avoid. Here are some tips for picking a winner, no matter what the variation:
Look for Heavy Squash
Winter squash comes in all different types, shapes and sizes and each one has a specific profile. While they may not all look alike, each one of them that are ready to eat and harvest will be heavy for their size.
Look for an Intact Stem
When you look over your winter squash, look closely at the stem. It should be attached, be dry to the touch and feel supple and firm. Wet, missing or weak stems may signal that the squash is not right.
Shiny Skin or No?
The general consensus among winter squash lovers is that a dull finish is best, but that is not without challenge. There are some out there that say shiny winter squash is delicious and not a good indicator of ripeness. One thing seems certain, however. Dull colored examples that are not shiny are always tasty. Go with the majority if you want to be safe.
The Richer the Color the Better
Although the colors and shapes of winter squash vary wildly, the colors are all fairly indicative of how tasty they will be. Look for examples that are deeply colored and richly hued. A pale color indicates that the squash is not ready or otherwise bad. Often, pale spots will be in one area where the squash was sitting on the ground. That is fine as long as that area is not green in color.
Check the Surface of the Squash
Look for cuts and bruises. While these things do not indicate the squash is bad necessarily, they do indicate that they won’t keep well. The easier the squash is to damage, the more likely it was picked too soon. Look for one that is resistant to nicks and dings. A firm example is best.
Winter squash is such an enjoyable treat this time of year. Learning how to select the best one is a sure-fire way to enjoy them to the max. Give them a try for a wonderful treat now or store them up for the cold winter ahead!