Florida is “Squashin’” it!
Florida squash is a healthy versatile fruit! Yes, you heard right, squash is a fruit. It is botanically considered a fruit as it develops from the flowers of the plant and contains seeds. Although this is true, it is more traditionally considered a vegetable because of its savory taste and typical preparation for consumption. Squash is classified as a gourd and is in the same family as melons and cucumbers. There is quite a bit of squash grown in Florida, which can be seen as Florida is ranked 2nd nationally in squash production.
There are two different types of squash, summer squash and winter squash.
There are three main varieties of summer squash grown in Florida: yellow, pattypan, and zucchini. Yellow squash is typically grown in West Central Florida and South Florida, while zucchini is grown in North Central Florida. These different varieties of summer squash can be found in grocery stores from October to May. These fruits are high in fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin C. Something cool about summer squash is that there is no waste! The entire fruit can be eaten, skin, flesh, seeds and all. By eating the entire fruit, you consume the most nutrients available.
When selecting yellow squash in the grocery store, you should look for fruit that is a bright yellow color, either bottle-like or cylindrical in shape, and heavy. When selecting zucchini, you should look for fruit that is a deep green color, glossy, slim, and cylindrical in shape, with no soft spots that indicate bruising. Summer squash can be stored in the refrigerator for approximately 3-5 days. This produce should be scrubbed thoroughly under running water to clean it before consumption. As mentioned before, squash is very versatile as it can be cooked in many ways: stir-fried, sautéed, grilled, boiled, or steamed. As squash is fairly neutral in flavor, it pairs well with many other ingredients such as onions, tomatoes, okra, marjoram, dill, parsley, and rosemary.
For your enjoyment, try out a summer squash recipe courtesy of Fresh From Florida! https://www.followfreshfromflorida.com/recipes/stuffed-florida-zucchini-and-yellow-squash-parmesan/
There are five common varieties of winter squash grown in Florida: butternut, acorn, spaghetti, turban, and Hubbard. These fruits are excellent as they can be stored for 1-3 months depending on the variety due to their thick, tough shells that protect their sweet, yummy flesh. Winter squash is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, niacin, and beta-carotene. To select the best winter squash, you should look for fruit that is heavy and has a deep-colored, hard rind. Winter squash is also versatile as it can be baked, pureed, steamed, or mashed.
For your enjoyment, try out a winter squash recipe courtesy of Food Network! https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/spaghetti-squash-carbonara-4590186
Did You Know?
- Summer squash is more fragile and should be eaten soon after harvest or fresh, while winter squash is harvested and eaten when the fruit is fully matured.
- Winter squash can be stored for longer because of its skin that hardens into a tough, protective rind and has fully ripened seeds.
- The darker the flesh of a winter squash, the more nutrient rich it is, specifically having higher contents of beta-carotene.
- Spaghetti squash is great substitute for pasta.
Content courtesy of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services and Fresh From Florida.
Information compiled by: Avianna Liuzzo