Squash come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colours, and textures. Broadly, they can be divided into two categories: summer squash and winter squash. These terms refer to when each variety is typically eaten rather than when they are grown. In this tip, we’ll touch on various varieties of squash we like to grow as well as the differences between summer and winter squash.
Summer squash like zucchini grows quickly and is most abundant during the summer months. They have a low growing bushy habit often with prickly stems and leaves. Fruit is harvested before fully mature.
Winter squash take longer to grow, have a good and longer storage life, and are typically eaten throughout the winter. They are best when harvested once the cool fall weather sets in. Winter squash generally has a vining growth habit and can sprawl throughout the garden by the end of the summer. Squash are harvested when fruit is fully mature.
Below, we’ve outlined some of the most common types of squash and their characteristics.
One of the most popular winter squash in supermarkets, it has a bulbous end and pale creamy skin. Flesh is deep orange with a sweet, nutty flavour. Generally the more orange the flesh, the sweeter and riper, and drier the flesh.
Hubbard is an old favourite with extra hard skins and very good storage qualities. The skin is typically blue/gray with irregular patterns or “warted” growths. It is very versatile, being used in soups, stews, roasted, boiled, and delicious even in pies.
Acorn squash is small, round, and as its name implies, is shaped like an acorn. This winter squash is easy to slice and has sweet, slightly fibrous flesh.
Spaghetti squash is a small oval winter squash similar in appearance to a watermelon. When cooked, the flesh separates in strands that resemble spaghetti pasta. Choose the largest and most yellow squash as they will be the ripest, most flavourful, and best to eat.
Pattypan zucchinis are a summer squash that are most known for its small, round, shallow shape, and scalloped edges . They are also called sunburst squash, scallop squash and come in yellow, green, and white varieties.
The most common type of summer squash, zucchini comes in a variety of colours and can reach up to 1 meter in length. More often though, they are harvested at a much smaller size. Zucchinis are also called courgette in France and many parts of the UK.
These are just a few of the most common varieties of squash. With dozens of varieties out there, we suggest you experiment until you find one you like the best.