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09.30.2002

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squash i
the basics of butternut squash
 
by
Yee-Fan Sun
1 2

Here in Arizona, where the weather stays summery well into October, I sometimes forget when fall hits the rest of the country. This, of course, is terribly, terribly sad, since fall Ė or the fall I remember from having grown up in New England, at any rate Ė with its cooler temperatures, yellowy-gold light, and fiery-hued foliage, has always been my favorite time of year. Fortunately, the sudden proliferation of all manner of beautiful thick-skinned gourds in the supermarkets come this time of year serves as a happy reminder that despite the fact Iím still sweating away in shorts and tanktops, autumnís really arrived. So never mind that itís still barbecue weather: I, for one, am more than ready to move on to fall like everyone else in the rest of the country. Which is why hot temperatures be damned, itís time to cook up some butternut squash.

Butternut squash has a yellowish-tan skin and a beautiful, bright orange flesh. When cooked, its flavor is sweet and rich, and tastes somewhat similar to sweet potatoes. Butternut squash tends to be one of the more common winter squashes, and makes for excellent cooking not only because of its fabulous flavor, but also because its skin tends to be a little easier to cut through than other winter squashes. Itís generally vaguely pear-shaped Ė fat at the bottom and skinnier at the top Ė although sometimes youíll find ones that are much more cylindrical in form. As for size, butternut squash generally range from 8" or so long to a foot, and weigh anywhere from a pound to four.

choosing and storing butternut squash
Choose a squash that feels heavy for its size, with blemish-free skin, and no soft, moldy spots. Thanks to its thick skin, butternut squash keeps for a good long time (up to a month) when kept in a cool, dark place. Donít store squash in the refrigerator, as the cold temperatures will actually cause the squash to go bad much more quickly.

prepping butternut squash
Unlike summer squash, the peel of winter squashes is too tough for eating, even when cooked. To peel a butternut squash, cut off the ends of the squash. (Youíll need a good heavy chefís knife to cut a butternut squash). Quarter the squash Ė I find it easier to cut latitudinally first (the short way), then to cut each section in half. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and fibrous innards from the bulbous bottom ends and discard. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel.

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