The process for domesticating Squash took place over 5,000-6,500 years ago in Mesoamerica. Squash was domesticated first followed by maize and beans thus becoming the “Three Sisters Agricultural System of Companion Planting.” Cucurbita was spread to the rest of the world after Christopher Columbus arrival to the New World in 1492. A staple of the Northeastern Native Americans, the new settlers in Virginia and New England were not impressed with the Winter Squash until they were faced with long, harsh winters. Winter Squash stores well and at this point it became a staple in their diets. To make an early version of a Pumpkin Pie, the Pilgrims hollowed out a Pumpkin, added Apples, Sugar, Spices and Milk. They then replaced the Pumpkin top and baked. The name Squash comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means "eaten raw or uncooked." For more fun facts about Winter Squash click here and for facts about different varieties, check out this article from Food Network. For more about Winter Squash here.
Winter Squash can be prepared in a variety of ways and is delicious sweet or savory. Winter Squash can be preserved by freezing, canning and dehydrating. Read more tips here. Winter Squash is delicious roasted as it becomes sweeter as it caramelizes. They can be boiled, baked, braised and pureed in soups. For information on how to peel, seed and slice Winter Squash watch this video from Food Hacks here and for information on how to peel, seed and slice a Butternut Squash click here or watch another Food Hacks video here.
Pumpkin, butternut, acorn, pattypan, zucchini, kabocha, hubbard, spaghetti—the variety of squashes is only surpassed by the number of ways you can enjoy their taste and nutritional benefits. Forget the mushy side dish you may be accustomed to eating at holiday dinners. You can make delicious sundae toppings, pancakes, muffins, breads, soups, dips, risotto, burgers, casseroles—and an incredibly easy butternut “bacon” that you’ll want to eat every day. Featuring more than 100 recipes from morning to night, also includes tips on handling, cutting and storing squash and a handy visual guide to the most common varieties. (Barnes & Noble, $17.53)