Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese. In addition, winter squash is rich in folate, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin B6, niacin-vitamin B3 and pantothenic acid.
Squash is warming nature and sweet in flavour. It influences the spleen, pancreas and stomach and reduces inflammation, thus reducing the severity of conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Squash can also help to improve energy circulation, has very powerful antioxidant properties, and the fiber content helps prevent heart disease and cancer
How to Select and Store
Winter squash is easily prone to decay, so it is important to carefully inspect it before purchase. Choose ones that are firm, heavy for their size and have dull, not glossy, rinds. The rind should be hard as soft rinds may indicate that the squash is watery and lacking in flavor. Avoid those with any signs of decay, which manifest as areas that are water-soaked areas or moldy.
Winter squash has a much longer storage life than summer squash. Depending upon the variety, it can be kept for between one week to six months. It should be kept away from direct exposure to light and should not be subject to extreme heat or extreme cold. The ideal temperature for storing winter squash is between 50-60°F (about 10-15°C). Once it is cut, cover the pieces of winter squash in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator, where they will keep for one or two days. The best way to freeze winter squash is to first cut it into pieces of suitable size for individual recipes.
The vegetable is prepared by removing the skin, stalk and seeds, which are not usually eaten or cooked. However, the seeds are edible, either raw or roasted. One of the most common ways to prepare butternut squash is roasting. To do this, the squash is cut in half lengthwise, lightly brushed with cooking oil, and placed cut side down on a baking sheet. It is then baked for 45 minutes or until it is softened. Once roasted, it can be eaten in a variety of ways as outlined above.
Where to find it
- Healthy Grocer in Mechanicsburg
- Appalachian Whole Foods Market In Carlisle
- Sunrise Natural Foods in Harrisburg
- Wegmans Farmers Market Section
- Harrisburg Farmers Market at the Farm Show
- West Shore Farmers Market
- Oak Grove Farmers Market
- Paulis Farm Stand