What Is Honeynut Squash?

Ripe honeynut squash

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You don't often hear about "new" vegetables. The world of veggies stays pretty much the same from year to year. There's no new broccoli, no new asparagus, and so on. But there is one relatively new variety of squash you might not have heard about, and it's called the honeynut squash.

What Is Honeynut Squash?

Introduced in 2017, honeynut squash is a cross between the butternut squash, which is the familiar dark beige winter squash that looks like a stretched-out bell, and buttercup squash, which is a small, round, green squash that kind of resembles an acorn squash.

The resulting honeynut squash looks like a much smaller, slightly darker version of the butternut squash. Other differences: instead of the dark beige color of the butternut, the skin of the honeynut squash is a deep orange. It's flavor is sweeter and richer, and even though it's a winter squash, the skin is thin enough that it doesn't need to be peeled before you can eat it.

Part of the process for developing honeynut squash involved breeding specifically for flavor, which, oddly enough, is something that isn't done with most vegetables. Most vegetables are bred for high yield rather than flavor. Which makes sense from a certain standpoint—before growers will plant a new crop, they need to know that it will be profitable. On the other hand, it seems self-evident that vegetables should be tasty. (Technically, squash is a fruit.)

Honeynut Squash Vs Butternut Squash

Since honeynut squash looks like a miniature version of butternut squash, it's only natural to compare the two. The most obvious difference is size. Honeynut squash will grow to about 6 inches in height as opposed to 8 to 12 inches long for butternut squash. 

What Does It Taste Like?

Honeynut squash has a deep, rich, sweet, nutty, malty flavor, meaning it can be prepared without adding sweeteners like brown sugar or maple syrup, the way you might when preparing butternut squash. The flavor is much more intense because, unlike butternut squash, whose larger size is largely a function of its high water content, honeynut squash has less water content and thus a more concentrated flavor.

Another advantage is that the honeynut squash has a thin, edible skin, which means you don't have to peel it or scoop out the flesh. Other than the seeds, pulp, and stem, you can eat the whole thing. 

How to Use Honeynut Squash

The best way to prepare honeynut squash is to roast it. Simply slice it lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and season it with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and roast at 400 F for about 20 minutes. This is about half as long as a butternut squash takes to roast. You can think of a honeynut squash as a single-serving squash: one squash per person.

You can also puree it, make it into soup, and do all of the usual things you do with winter squash. Since the skin is edible, you can slice it into rings and roast or bake it, sort like you would with delicata squash.

You can also bake with it in muffins, quick breads, and biscuits, chop it up and use it in breakfast hash, a curry, tacos, and pastas.  

Honeynut Squash Recipes

Try honeynut squash in these recipes in place of butternut squash:

Where to Buy Honeynut Squash

In its early days, honeynut squash was mainly available in the northeast. But as its popularity has grown, it has made its way across the country as increasing numbers of squash growers have adopted it. Now it can be found in most parts of the country, including at retailers like Whole Foods, Costco, and Trader Joes. They're harvested in late September and early October and are generally available through December. 

Look for squash that are a deep orange, with no green patches, and use them while firm. When they take on a wrinkly exterior, they're starting to go bad. Once cooked, you can store the cubes or puree for a week in the fridge or three months in the freezer.

Nutrition and Benefits

A 1-cup serving (about 116 grams) of honeynut squash provides 40 calories, 1 gram of protein and less than a gram of fat, along with 10 grams of carbs and around 2 grams of dietary fiber .

Article Sources
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  1. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170489/nutrients