The winter squash known as butternut squash is an annual plant that can grow up to 18 inches tall and 15 feet wide. You will know by the color of its skin if it is still immature or if it is ready to be harvested. Young butternut squash has light green skin before turning into orange as it matures. The yellow flowers of a butternut squash bloom in the summer. The outside of butternut squash is a tan-yellow skin, while inside, there is an orange fleshy pulp surrounding the seeds in the center.
Species: C. moschata
Binomial name: Cucurbita moschata
Butternut Squash Trivia
- In Australia and New Zealand, they call butternut squash “butternut pumpkin” or “gramma”.
- Butternut squash is a hybrid, a result of the work of breeder Charles Legget who combined Gooseneck squash and Hubbard squash. It happened sometime during the 1940s in Stow, Massachusetts.
- The word “squash” originates from the Narragansett word “askutasquash” which means “eaten raw or uncooked”.
- Some indigenous people made sure that when a dead person is buried, squash is buried with it as well, in the belief that this food will help sustain the dead in the afterlife.
- It is hard and heavy, but believe it or not, raw butternut squash is actually 86% water.
- Butternut squash was introduced in New Zealand in 1950 by David Harrison and Arthur Harrison.
- Butternut Farm Golf Club, in Stow, Massachusetts, got its name because this place was where butternut squash was first cultivated.
Butternut Squash Buying Guide
If you are looking to buy raw, uncooked, whole butternut squash, look at the color. Really ripe butternut squash ready for cooking usually has a deep orange color. From the choices available to you, pick the one with the fattest neck and a small bulb because this has a small seed cavity which means more butternut squash to cook. Check the skin and avoid butternut squash with bruises or mold. The skin should also be hard, not soft. Lastly, pick a butternut squash with the stem intact. This will keep longer, compared to butternut squash that has lost its stem and is more vulnerable to spoiling faster. Besides, a lost stem may also indicate that the butternut squash is past its peak freshness.
If you are looking to buy butternut squash seed packets, they are available at grocery stores. You can also find seeds sold in hardware stores. If you do not have time to go out, order online.
Butternut Squash Production & Farming in Texas
One of the reasons why farmers love planting butternut squash is because it can grow in almost any climate. Spring is the best time to plant butternut squash after the last frost of the season has passed. When planting the seed, make sure that the soil is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit or it will not germinate.
Generally, butternut squash needs full sun and well-draining soil but take note also that butternut squash seedlings are susceptible to drought, so make sure to always keep the soil moist, and they cannot survive overheat, which is why it is advisable to give plants some afternoon shade. Butternut squash needs soil with a pH between 5.5 to 7.0 (acidic to neutral). Having a rich soil to start ( reinforced later by organic compost or aged manure, preferably in the middle of the growing season) is important when growing butternut squash because this plant is a heavy feeder. To ensure optimal growth, use a liquid fertilizer every two (or three, depending on your soil condition) weeks.
Butternut squash can grow in the U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 2 through 11. This means it can grow anywhere in Texas. The hardiness zone spectrum covering Texas ranges from 6 to 9B.
According to a 2014 PDF from the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, “butternut squash is reasonably tolerant of weed competition.”
Slugs and snails threaten young butternut squash seedlings. As the plant grows, there are more pests to worry about, like Japanese beetles. Squash bugs and squash vine borers are also common enemies of butternut squash.
- Squash bugs – The use of man-made pesticide carbaryl is the solution to rid of squash bugs.
- Squash vine borers – Use man-made pesticide carbaryl, broad-spectrum, pyrethroid-based insecticides like permethrin, or the pyrethroid insecticide bifenthrin to rid your butternut squash of squash vine borers.
- Snails and slugs – Use slug bait or copper tape against slugs and snails.
- Japanese beetles – To rid butternut squash of Japanese beetle, use pyrethrin, which is a combination of six chemicals (pyrethrin I, pyrethrin II, cinerin I, cinerin II, jasmolin I, and jasmolin II). An organic version of pyrethrin involves the use of chrysanthemum flowers. When using pyrethrin, make sure to mix 7.5 to 15 oz of concentrate in 5 gallons of water and apply enough to cover the upper and lower leaf surfaces.
Hubbard, which is half of the hybrid butternut squash, originated in northern Argentina. In the US, winter squash such as butternut squash is grown in many parts of the country but it is Michigan, New York, and California that has the most when it comes to production. North America is a major player in worldwide butternut squash production.
Common to fruits and vegetables of the same size or larger, butternut squash is usually sold without any type of packaging, primarily because its thick skin and rind already provide it with a layer of protection, keeping the flesh inside safe from any potential contamination while out on display. In some stores or groceries, you will see acorn squash individually wrapped in plastic wrap.
Enjoying Butternut Squashes
While the flesh of the butternut squash is the one that is commonly eaten or served, you can also eat the seeds, even the skin. A word of caution though: there is a big difference between edible and tasty. You can roast the skin so it becomes soft and easy to chew but it will be tricky to make it delicious and enjoyable to eat.
True to its name, butternut squash has a nutty flavor. It is also sweet-tasting. For optimal flavor when eating butternut squash, make sure to it for 2 months after harvest.
The ideal temperature for storing butternut squash is 10 °C (50 °F) with 50 percent humidity. If storage complies with necessary conditions for optimal storage, expect a butternut squash to remain in good quality for two to three months; some varieties can keep for as long as six months.
For cut but uncooked butternut squash, make sure to place it in a food container with a lid, a zip lock bag, or wrap it in plastic wrap before storing it in the refrigerator. Make sure to use this soon, since this will keep for several days only. A week may be too long and the cut butternut squash may not be ideal anymore for cooking and consumption.
Butternut squash is a botanical fruit used culinarily as a vegetable. It is roasted, sautéed, toasted, puréed, and mashed, Butternut squash is used in making soups, stews, casseroles – even breads, muffins, and pies. In many different countries, it is not unusual to boil butternut squash and eat it like mashed potatoes.
In South Africa, it is a common culinary practice to grill a whole butternut squash and improve the flavor by adding cinnamon and nutmeg. In other countries, you’ll find them making a dish of stuffed butternut squash using feta and spinach. They wrap this in foil and put it on the grill. Many dishes are made using butternut squash – main dish, side dish, or starter dish.
Butternut squash is a good source of fiber as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. It is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. This is great low-calorie food. Eating butternut squash improves our chances of being able to fight off health problems like cancer and heart disease. And if we want to be in a good mental condition as we grow older, it is best to include butternut squash in our diet.