Today is National Acorn Squash Day!
Acorn squash also called pepper squash or Des Moines squash is a winter squash with distinctive longitudinal ridges and sweet, yellow-orange flesh. Although considered a winter squash, acorn squash belongs to the same species as all summer squashes (including zucchini and yellow crookneck squash).
The most common variety is dark green in color, often with a single splotch of orange on the side or top. However, newer varieties have arisen, including Golden Acorn, so named for its glowing yellow color, as well as varieties that are white. Acorn squashes can also be variegated (multi-colored). As the name suggests, its shape resembles that of an acorn. Acorn squashes typically weigh one to two pounds and are between four and seven inches long. Acorn squash is good and hardy to save throughout the winter in storage, keeping several months in a cool dry location such as a cold cellar.
Acorn squash is very easily grown. Seeds are started after all danger of frost is past and the soil is warm or within 3–4 weeks before the predicted last frost date in the area. Seeds directly sown are placed one inch deep, 5-6 to a hill; hills are 6 feet in all direction from other hills. As with other squash varieties, the acorn squash produces yellow trumpet flowers which are also edible. Tops (about three inches) from the end are also edible. They are one of the common vegetable (as greens) in the Philippines. The stem has a prickly feel, so be careful when handling the plant. Roughly 85 days after germinating, acorn squash are ready to be harvested. Curing takes a week to ten days in a sheltered area outside, or a warm dry place like a dry storage space, protected from frost.
Acorn squash is commonly baked, but can also be microwaved, sauteed or steamed. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Fill the halves with whatever stuffing you desire, rice, meat or vegetable. Place the stuffed shells in a baking dish, add about a cup of water or broth, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350° until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. The seeds of the squash are also eaten, usually after being toasted. This squash is not as rich in beta-carotene as other winter squashes, but is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, as well as smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium, and manganese.
With winter around the corner it doesn’t get much better than Acorn Squash Soup. Steam the squash until tender. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and mash the squash. Add the squash to a stock, broth or bouillon of choice and blend with an immersion blender. Add milk, half and half or cream and season with nutmeg, dill weed and salt and pepper to taste. Heat and serve. Delectable! And for a special occasion, serve in a squash shell. Be sure to heat the shells by holding them under hot water first or they will suck all the heat out of the soup.
And for dessert there’s Acorn Squash Pie. Just follow your favorite recipe for pumpkin pie only use mashed acorn squash instead of pumpkin.
Acorn Squash (en.wikipedia.org)
National Acorn Squash Day (examiner.com)