The plain and simple truth is this: when this squash is cooked and the meat softens, it falls off in ribbons or strands, looking like cooked spaghetti noodles on the plate. That is how it got its name, and now that many people want healthier alternatives to their food, they are using this kind of squash to make spaghetti. Indeed, the spaghetti squash is living up to its name!
According to the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service, spaghetti squash is the common name to Cucurbita pepo L. subsp. pepo.
Species: C. pepo
Binomial name: Cucurbita pepo L.
Spaghetti Squash Trivia
- Some people call spaghetti squash “vegetable spaghetti”.
- Jody Zylstra, who is from Wasilla City in Alaska, holds the record for the biggest spaghetti squash in the Alaska State Fair. Jody made the history books in 2014.
- They call it spaghetti squash because it looks like spaghetti; however, even if you use the same spaghetti sauce, you will notice that the taste is not the same.
- Spaghetti squash wasn’t popular in the US and Europe until it rose to popularity during the 1970s.
Spaghetti Squash Buying Guide
If you are buying spaghetti squash, do not be surprised if you see different shapes, sizes, and colors. If there are ivory, yellow, and orange spaghetti squash available in the market, buy the orange one because it has the highest amount of carotene compared to the ivory and yellow spaghetti squashes. Make sure to pick one with a hard rind. Check the skin for any bruises, discoloration, damage or holes, or any signs that part of it is rotting or overripe.
Buying spaghetti squash should not be a problem since this is available in the market, grocery, or the farmers market all year long. You will notice an increase in supply during the peak season of spaghetti squash harvest, which early in the fall and throughout winter.
Spaghetti Squash Production & Farming in Texas
Plant spaghetti squash once the danger of frost has passed. It grows well when there are enough sunlight and organic matter in the soil. The soil should have a pH of 6.0 to 6.8 and it should be well-draining to avoid root rot especially in the early stage of plant growth. You can start planting seedlings indoors and transplant them in the garden outside when they have grown and become stable. You can plant spaghetti squash either in a garden or a pot. If you are considering planting companion plants, the best options would be dill and marigold because these are beneficial to spaghetti squash. These plants attract tachinid flies which in turn feeds on squash bugs which is a common pest attacking spaghetti squash.
Like almost all squashes, spaghetti squash – a common winter squash – is grown in many places in the state of Texas.
The use of pesticides is important because of the threat of several pests like cucumber beetles, spider mites, whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, squash vine borers, and pickleworms to the spaghetti squash.
- Cucumber beetle – Use Kaolin clay, Beauveria bassiana, and/or botanical insecticides. Other options include using pyrethrin or spinosad spray or azadirachtin insecticide.
- Spider mites – Spider mites – To get rid of spider mites, use neem oil and apply it through foliar spraying. It contains azadirachtin which is effective against spider mites. You can also use horticultural oil (which also targets aphids and thrips). Pests die after exposure to horticultural oil due to suffocation since the oil blocks the spiracles through which insects breathe. Another effect of horticultural oils is disrupting the metabolism of insect eggs. Lastly, horticultural oils disrupt the insect’s ability to feed. As a result, the insect starves to death. Using pyrethrin spray is also an effective method against spider mites. Another option is spinosad, a mixture of two chemicals called spinosyn A and spinosyn D typically used to control a wide variety of pests.
- Whiteflies – Malathion or Pyrethrins are effective against whiteflies.
- Squash bugs – The use of man-made pesticide carbaryl is the solution to rid of squash bugs.
- Aphids – Kill aphids using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. You can also use the pesticide malathion, which is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the United States, or rotenone, a selective, non-specific insecticide typically used in home gardens for insect control.
- Squash vine borers – Use man-made pesticide carbaryl, broad-spectrum, pyrethroid-based insecticides like permethrin, or the pyrethroid insecticide bifenthrin to rid your spaghetti squash of squash vine borers.
- Pickleworms – Neem and spinosad will kill pickleworms.
Food historians believe spaghetti squash originated in America, although it is unsure if it is in North America or Central America, and where exactly in this particular region.
Common to fruits and vegetables of the same size or larger, spaghetti 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.
Enjoying Spaghetti Squashes
The most popular way of eating spaghetti squash is by using it as a healthy alternative to traditional spaghetti.
If you have uncut spaghetti squash you plan to store, make sure that the temperature of the place of storage is at 50-60°F/10-15°C, with relative humidity and good ventilation. If it gets too cold in the storage area, your spaghetti squash may suffer chilling damage. Stored properly, your harvested spaghetti squash will keep for three months.
When you cut open a spaghetti squash, you will find many large seeds in its center. Don’t throw these out! You can roast these and eat them for a snack. The flesh is firm when raw but it turns into soft ribbons once cooked, if you scoop it out the right way.
Spaghetti squash is easy to cook. Just boil them or steam them or put them in the microwave for a few minutes and it is ready to eat! Others use spaghetti squash as an ingredient when baking. And yes, use it as a healthy alternative to spaghetti noodles when making spaghetti. You can put spaghetti sauce on it if you want to use it and not spaghetti noodles. This is a great idea especially for people who are looking to eat healthily and lose weight at the same time.
Because it has low calories but high in vitamins and minerals, this fat-free squash is considered a nutrient-dense food. Spaghetti squash is a good source of folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, fiber, vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, and beta carotene.