Winter Squash: A Primer

From acorn to turban, winter squash are some of the most delicious and versatile ingredients of the season. Unlike summer squash, these are harvested in autumn when they are hard and ripe, and most varieties can be stored for use through the winter. Here's a guide to some of the most common varieties.

Acorn Squash: This deeply ridged, green- or orange-skinned squash is mildly sweet and nutty. Excellent for baking, roasting, and stuffing. The skin is edible. Recipes: 10 Ways To Eat An Acorn Squash

Banana Squash: This giant, elongated squash has orange, pink, or blue skin and sweet, brilliant orange flesh. Good for baking or in soups and stews. Often sold in smaller, more manageable chunks.

Buttercup Squash: A dark green squash with sweet orange flesh, the buttercup tends to be dry but steaming gives it a smoother, creamier texture.

Butternut Squash: This pear-shaped squash has smooth, creamy, sweet flesh. It's also one of the easiest to peel, making it quite versatile. Recipes: Eight Things To Do With Butternut Squash

Delicata Squash: This oblong, striped squash has a mild flavor somewhat like sweet potatoes. The tender skin is edible. Recipe: ‪Delicata Squash and Gruyere Dip

Hubbard Squash: Large and irregularly shaped, the Hubbard squash ranges in color from orange to green to blue-gray. It has a rich pumpkin flavor, making it great for pies.

Kabocha: This Japanese pumpkin has dense, honey-sweet flesh good in desserts and savory dishes. Recipe: Japanese Style Simmered Sweet Kabocha

Pumpkin: For the best flavor and texture, choose pumpkins grown specifically for eating rather than carving, such as sugar pumpkins, cheese pumpkins, and different heirloom varieties. Recipes: Five Ways to Eat: Pumpkin

Spaghetti Squash: This yellow, cylindrical squash has moist, stringy flesh that resembles noodles. Roast it and scrape out the strands. Recipes: Try This! Spaghetti Squash Instead of Pasta

Sweet Dumpling Squash: Raging in color from green to yellow to orange, this single serving-sized squash is ideal for stuffing. Recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash

Turban Squash: Often used for decoration, this pretty orange, green or white squash has a mild, nutty flavor reminiscent of hazelnuts. Hollowed out, it makes a beautiful soup tureen.

Related: 5 Quick Tips For Choosing Winter Squash

(Images: Emily Ho; Emily Ho; Flickr member espring4224 licensed under Creative Commons; Flickr member Brookford Farm licensed under Creative Commons; Emily Ho; Emily Ho; Emily Ho; Gregory Han; Emily Ho; Kathryn Hill; Emily Ho; Emily Ho)

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Emily Han (formerly Emily Ho) is a writer, recipe developer and educator on topics such as food preservation, wild food and herbalism. She is author of Wild Drinks and Cocktails (Fall 2015), co-founder of Food Swap Network and creator of Miss Chiffonade