Michael Tortorello calls it ‘squunk,’ that strong vegetable-y off-taste in cooked winter squash. In his article on squash last week in the New York Times, he was determined to get to the bottom of this bizarre flavor profile. We’ve never actually noticed this taste in winter squash. Have you?Tortorello explains that plant breeders have been trying to breed that “squunky” taste out of squash for some time. The problem is that all squashes cross-pollinate very easily (and thus cross-breed, from what we understand). It’s difficult to get a pure strain of squash from generation to generation, and even squashes growing on the same vine can vary in squunkitude.
Tortorello goes on to taste-test several varieties of winter squash to find a favorite variety. He recommends delicata or sugar pie if you want a traditional pumpkin pie flavor, but it sounds like ambercup or turban squashes make interesting alternative.
And if you want the very best, least squunky squash? Tortorello recommends growing it yourself next year.
What a fascinating article! Whether or not you’re making your pumpkin pie from scratch this year, it’s one worth reading.