Squash is native to the Western Hemisphere and was known to the Indians centuries before the arrival of the white man. It is a member of the cucurbit family, which includes pumpkins and gourds as well as cucumbers, muskmelons, and watermelons. Squash as we know it today is vastly different from the kind the Narragansett Indians dubbed "askutasquash," meaning "Green-raw-unripe" which, incidentally, was the way they ate it. We still follow their example and eat summer squash while tender and unripe, though it is usually cooked.
Squash is best when steamed or baked; some people even use it in soup. The Hubbard squash, due to its hard shell, is usually baked in the shell. Squash may be used to add variety to the menu. Summer squash is boiled or steamed and served as a vegetable with drawn butter or cream sauce, or it may be served mashed. The delicate flavor of summer squash is lost by boiling it in large quantities of water and, of course, nutrients are lost when the cooking water is thrown away.
Squash may be grouped in five general types: Hubbard, Banana, Turban, Mammoth, and Summer. The latter are actually pumpkins. However, they are listed as squashes because that is what they are called in the market.
Summer squash should be fresh, fairly heavy for its size, and free from blemish. The rind should be so tender that it can be punctured very easily. Hard-rind summer squash is undesirable because the flesh is likely to be stringy and the seeds and rind have to be discarded. Winter squash should have a hard rind. Soft-rind winter squash is usually immature, and the flesh may be thin and watery when cooked, and lack flavor.
Benefits of SquashWinter squash contains more vitamin A than summer squash. Both are low in carbohydrates and can be used in all diets. Squash is a high potassium and sodium food that leaves an alkaline ash in the body. It is very good for the eliminative system.
Nutrients in one pound (summer squash)
Nutrients in one pound (winter squash)
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