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Butternut Squash – All You Need to Know | Instacart Guide to Fresh Produce

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Last Updated: Jun 8, 2021

What is butternut squash?

Butternut squash is one of the varieties of winter squash. Botanically classified as a fruit, butternut squash has a long neck and a bulbous bottom. Many shoppers often dismiss it for pumpkins, but it actually belongs to the same family as the pumpkin. In fact, it has the same sweet and nutty taste and can be used in most recipes that require pumpkin.

Butternut squash has a tan-yellow tough exterior skin with firm orange flesh inside and a circular cavity for seeds. The flesh becomes more orange and sweeter as the squash ripens.

Butternut squash has a solid nutritional profile full of fiber, antioxidants, and minerals, which makes it a valid reason not to ignore this orange veggie.

What is the difference between butternut and buttercup squash?

With a wide variety of squashes available, it can be confusing to distinguish one from another, such as the difference between buttercup squash and butternut squash.

Buttercup squash is a small, squat-looking vegetable with a thick dark green exterior and sweet orange flesh, which tends to be a bit dry. It looks like an upside-down acorn and is best used in recipes that involve steaming and baking.

In contrast, butternut squash can easily be identified from all the other squashes in the supermarket from its unique bell shape. Plus, butternut squash can be used in almost any kind of recipe.

Where did butternut squash originate from?

Although squash has been cultivated for thousands of years by the native Americans, the original butternut squash was created by Charles A. Leggett around 1940.

Legget used gooseneck squash and crossed it with other varieties to produce butternut squash. He took his creation to the Waltham Agricultural Experiment field station in Massachusetts, where they worked with his original squash creation to produce what would come to be known as the Waltham Butternut squash.

Today, butternut squash is widely available throughout the world with Florida being the largest producer in the United States.

What are the benefits of eating butternut squash?

Butternut squash is rich in yellow and orange antioxidants known as carotenoids, which include beta-carotene.

Beta-carotene is the substance that gives butternut squash its yellow-orange hue. It is converted into Vitamin A in our body to help support the immune system. It also protects against cellular damage.

Studies show that beta-carotene also helps reduce the incidence of asthma and lowers the risk of cancer.

The other carotenoids in butternut squash are lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect against eye disorders like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Butternut squash is also a good source of fiber and other nutrients, including potassium, which is important for healthy blood pressure.

The nutritional profile of butternut squash also helps digestion and is good for skin and hair among other benefits.

What is the nutritional value of butternut squash?

One cup (205 g) of cooked butternut squash has 82 calories, 21 grams of carbohydrates, which includes 4 grams of sugar and 6.6 grams of dietary fiber.

Butternut squash is also a good source of the following mineral and vitamins:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Thiamin
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Folate
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Manganese.

Can you eat butternut squash raw?

Butternut squash is a versatile vegetable that can be consumed cooked or raw. It is safe to eat without cooking, as it does not have any toxic substances. Try julienne or thinly shaved butternut squash in a raw salad with some zesty dressing.

Butternut squash can be grilled, baked, or roasted. You can also steam or boil butternut squash to make purees for soups or for adding in a dessert. You can even try recipes with pan-fried slices or cubes of butternut squash.

Even the seeds can be roasted, just like pumpkin seeds.

How is butternut squash grown?

Butternut squash is grown in the warmer months on an annual vine that can grow up to 15 feet long. The seeds planted 5 to 8 feet apart in well-drained soil.

Many farmers grow winter squash on black plastic to increase the temperature of the soil and to reduce the evaporation of water.

It requires about 80 to 120 days to mature and is harvested when the squash is fully matured—the rind is hard and resistant to any denting.

When is butternut squash in season?

Butternut squash is available throughout the year, and in full season from September to December.

What should I look for when buying butternut squash?

Look for butternut squash that feels firm and heavy with a thick neck and a small bulb. This ensures that the squash has more flesh inside with a small seed cavity.

Butternut squash must also have smooth tan-colored skin with no wet dark spots or mold on it. However, a dark blemish from lying on its side is alight.

Butternut squash is also available in other forms: pre-cut and cubed, in cans, or frozen.

If you are looking to have your groceries delivered, you can easily shop for butternut squash via Instacart. After adding a product to your cart, use the “Instructions” option to notify your Instacart shopper about any preferences or specific directions on how to choose the best products. Shop for butternut squash.

How to store butternut squash?

Fresh uncut butternut squash lasts for two to three months in a cool dark place like in the pantry, closet, or basement.

If you are storing several squashes, make sure they do not touch each other. Wrapping each one in paper prevents any rot from spreading.

If you notice any soft spots on butternut squash, then separate it from the others and plan to consume it first.

Cut butternut squash must be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.­

How to tell if butternut squash is bad?

If you see any wet slimy spots or mold, then the butternut squash is going bad. Cut it open to check for mold spots or dark wet areas. You can cut those out and save the rest of the flesh. However, if the rotting is in a large area, then throw the squash away.

Also, check for any wet liquid oozing out from the squash. This means that the butternut squash belongs has gone bad and needs to be thrown away.

The good thing about butternut squash is that it takes a while for the whole vegetable to go bad. This gives you time to save the good flesh once you spot any rotting.

What can I substitute for butternut squash?

Don’t have any butternut squash and need a substitute? Try any of these veggies:

  • Buttercup squash
  • Delicata squash
  • Acorn Squash
  • Hubbard Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato

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