Although considered a winter squash, the acorn squash is from the same family as summer squash, which includes zucchini. It is a botanical fruit which is treated as a culinary vegetable. Squash is native to the Americas. Thought to be the first food cultivated by Native American Indians, squash, along with beans and corn, is part of the Indian triad of the three most important food staples.
Acorn Squash Botanical Name
Cucurbita pepo L. var. turbinata. Acorn squash is an edible gourd which grows on a vine.
Common and Other Names
acorn squash, winter squash, žalud squash, agern squash, ng bunga ng oak kalabasa, courge poivrée, eichelkürbis, makk squash, acorn leiðsögn, squash dearcán, squash ghianda, zīle drūzmēties, gilė skvošas, Żołądź squash, abóbora, ghindă squash, calabaza, acorn boga, ekollonsquash, meşe palamudu kabak, sboncen fesen
Acorn Squash Varieties
Along with the standard green variety, you may also run across orange and white acorn squash varieties.
Acorn Squash Availability / Season
Although available in many areas year-round, prime season for fresh acorn squash in North America is early fall through winter.
Acorn Squash Selection
Harvested when fully ripe, the average acorn squash weighs from one to three pounds. Any larger and you risk getting a dry, stringy squash. It should feel heavy for its size with smooth, dull skin and absolutely no soft spots. Shiny skin indicates it was picked before fully mature unless the producer has applied wax. Partial orange on the skin is good, yet, too much orange coloring indicates an overripe squash which will be dry and stringy. A good balance between green and orange coloring is optimum.
Acorn Squash Storage
Winter squash will last up to a month in a cool (50 to 55 degrees F.) dark cellar or storage area, but only about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Ideally, only cut or cooked acorn squash should be refrigerated. Squash with a bit of the stem still intact will help slow down moisture loss. Use acorn squash within 2 weeks of purchase unless you grow your own, in which case you may store 2 to 3 months. Once cut, wrap raw pieces in plastic wrap, refrigerate, and use within 4 days. Cooked acorn squash may be refrigerated up to 4 days. Before freezing, acorn squash must be cooked. More on Acorn Squash Storage
Sample Acorn Squash Recipes
Acorn Squash Description
True to winter squash form, acorn squash has characteristic inedible hard, thin skin and firm flesh. It is roughly ovoid in shape with thick ridges, five to eight inches long, four to five inches across, and has a defined point at the bottom. The flesh is sweeter than summer squash, with a nut-like flavor. It is shaped like a ribbed acorn, hence its nickname. The growing period is longer than summer squash, giving it plenty of time to soak up the sweetness of the sun.
- You'll need to remove the fibers and seeds from the center of the acorn squash before steaming, broiling or baking. To make the squash easier to cut, pierce the skin in a few spots, place it in a microwave oven and heat on high for 2 minutes. Let stand for another few minutes before carving. The deeper the yellowish orange color of the flesh, the sweeter it is.
- Read more acorn squash tips.