) is a warm-seasoned vegetable, representing several species within the genus Cucurbita
. It differs from summer squash
in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. At this stage, most varieties of this fruit can be stored for use during the winter. It is generally cooked before eating.
is a tender vegetable, the seeds do not germinate in cold soil. They are also easily destroyed by frost. It is therefore necessary to plant after the soil is thoroughly warmed and all sign of frost has passed.
Winter squash can be harvested whenever the fruits have turned a deep, solid color and the skin is hard. Harvest most of the crop in September or October, before heavy frosts
hit your area. When cutting squash from the vine, leave two inches of stem attached if possible. Avoid cuts and bruises when handling. Fruits that are not fully mature, have been injured, have had their stems knocked off, or have been subjected to heavy frost do not keep and should be used as soon as possible or be composted (watch for seedlings in the compost).
Winter squash is a good source of complex carbohydrates such as starch
, and also fibre
. It is also a source of niacin
and beta carotene
. Usually, the darker the skin is, the higher the beta carotene content.