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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom



Oklahoma Vegetable of the Month - Winter Squash

Winter Squash

The term "winter squash" dates back to a time when refrigeration and cross country transportation was not as readily available as it is now. Fresh foods from all over the world were not stocked on grocery shelves year round. "Good keepers" became known as winter vegetables if they would "keep" until December. Winter squash have hard, thick skins and will keep for up to a month if stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place.

The best tasting winter squash is available this time of year, beginning in early fall. Purchase acorn squash that is almost solid dark green. The best butternut squash has a thick neck and small round base. Kabocha squash, orange or dark green, is between butternut squash and pumpkin in size and is good in pie or soup. Ornamental squash, also plentiful during the holiday season, is edible but normally not as flavorful as acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash.

More on the history of food preservation techniques.

Play With Your Food - What's Inside?
  1. Bring in an assortment of winter squash
  2. Students write descriptions and predict what they will find inside. What color will will they be? Will there be seeds? Where are the seeds located? What will it smell like? How will it feel?
  3. Use a very sharp knife, a cutting board and a mallet to slice each squash in half. (Winter squash is difficult to cut, so take safety precautions. You might want to have some cut ahead of time to avoid accidents.)
  4. Allow students to smell and taste the squash, and have them write their observations after cutting.
Be a Food Explorer - Roasted Acorn Squash
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut acorn squash in half, and scoop the seeds out of each half with a spoon.
  3. Place cut side down on a greased cookie sheet and roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender when flesh is poked with a fork.
  4. Turn squash over and add 1 pat of butter, 1 teaspoon of honey or maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, salt and pepper to the hollow scoop of each half.
  5. Cool and let students scoop out the flesh with spoons.

If necessary, you may use a microwave. Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Cook on one side for 5 minutes. Then turn it over and cook for another five minutes. The squash is ready when you can easily pierce it with a fork. Add the butter and flavoring.