Move over, pumpkin; there’s a new winter squash in town. Meet kabocha squash, a Japanese staple prized for its sweet taste, velvety texture, health benefits, and versatility. If you love pumpkin and sweet potato, kabocha will quickly become your new best friend this fall. Let’s get to know it better.
Tetsukabuto Squash is small to medium, typically weighing 4-6 pounds, and is almost perfectly round, except for a small scar at the blossom end. The knobby, mottled, and dark green rind features shallow, lengthwise grooves, which may develop patches of orange and pale-yellow striping as the squash matures through the season. The yellow-gold flesh is thick, dense, and firm, surrounding a small central cavity with densely packed fibers. Tetsukabuto squash has a relatively low moisture content and retains a firm texture when cooked, offering a pleasant starchy quality. Its flesh isn’t as sweet as butternut, but when roasted, it develops rich notes of hazelnut and browned butter.
Fairytale Pumpkins are medium to large, with an average diameter of 30-45 centimeters and a weight of 15-20 pounds. They have a round, squat, flattened shape with a sturdy, light brown stem. The smooth rind is deeply lobed with prominent ribbing and transforms from dark green to a rich light-brown to tan when mature. The bright orange flesh is thick, firm, and fine-textured, encasing a small central cavity containing some pulp and flat, cream-colored seeds. When cooked, Fairytale pumpkins are smooth, creamy, and tender with a spicy scent and a mild, sweet flavor.
Cinderella/Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
Cinderella Pumpkins are medium to large, with an average diameter of 30-38 centimeters and a weight of 15-35 pounds. They are round with a flattened blossom and stem end. The deeply-ribbed or lobed rind matures from yellow to a bright red-orange and is smooth with a rough, light brown stem. The skin is thick, dense, and rich orange, encasing a central cavity with pulp and flat, cream-colored seeds. When cooked, Cinderella pumpkins are creamy and moist with a mild and slightly sweet flavor.
Chicago Warted Hubbard Squash
Also known as ‘Green Warted Hubbard,’ the fifteen-to-eighteen-foot vines of ‘Chicago Warted Hubbard’ are very vigorous and produce dark-green, hard-shelled, heavily warted fruits weighing up to sixteen pounds. With some care, they can store into late spring and are good for pies, baking, and freezing.
Blue Hubbard Squash
Blue Hubbard Squash is large, with an average diameter of thirty centimeters and a weight ranging from 5-40 pounds. It has an oval and plump shape, somewhat bulbous in the middle and slightly tapered at the neck leading to a corky, rough, light brown stem. The semi-thin rind is very tough, bumpy with some smooth patches, and pale blue-green-gray in color. The flesh is orange to golden yellow, fine-grained, and dense, with a large central cavity filled with stringy pulp and many large, flat, cream-colored seeds. When cooked, Blue Hubbard squash is tender and starchy, with a rich, semi-sweet, nutty flavor similar to cooked pumpkin.
Red Kuri Squash
Red Kuri Squash is small to medium, averaging eighteen centimeters in diameter and 3-7 pounds, with a pear or teardrop-like shape and a thick, rough, light-brown stem. The skin is smooth, firm, and thin, with a vibrant red-orange hue and faint light orange to tan vertical ridging. The flesh is dense, thick, dry, and gold to yellow, encasing a large central cavity with stringy pulp and many flat, cream-colored seeds. When cooked, Red Kuri squash has a smooth and tender texture with a sweet, nutty flavor reminiscent of chestnuts.
Porcelain Doll Squash
Porcelain Doll Squash is medium to large, averaging 16-24 pounds and has a globular, blocky shape with a shallow, sunken stem cap. The smooth rind is deeply ribbed and lobed, transforming from pale yellow to cream and then pink when mature. The thick flesh is orange and surrounds a central cavity containing some pulp and many flat, tear-drop-shaped, cream-colored seeds. When cooked, Porcelain Doll squash is tender with a smooth texture and a sweet flavor.
Honeynut Squash is small, averaging 10-13 centimeters in length, with a traditional bell shape resembling a butternut squash, but smaller, with a short, bulbous bottom and a long neck. The thin, smooth rind matures from green to mottled orange with streaks of dark green to an all-over deep orange when fully ripe. The flesh is firm, moist, and orange, with a small cavity in the bulbous end filled with stringy pulp and a few flat, cream-colored seeds. When cooked, Honeynut squash is tender and creamy with a sweet, nutty, caramel, and malt-like flavor.
Butternut Squash is medium to large and has a bell-like shape with a long neck attached to a bulbous end. The smooth skin is very thin, light tan, firm, and is connected to a light brown, rough stem. The long neck of the Butternut squash contains solid orange, dense, and moist flesh, while the bulbous end has a small hollow seed cavity with stringy pulp and a few flat, cream-colored seeds. When cooked, the flesh of the Butternut squash becomes tender, offering a mild squash flavor with sweet and nutty nuances.
Georgia Candy Roaster/Pink Banana
A smaller variety of Candy Roaster from Northern Georgia, this squash is famous in the Southeast U.S. Pink, banana-shaped fruit with a blue tip, weighing around 10 lbs. Delicious, smooth orange flesh is perfect for baking, frying, and making pies; it’s hard to find and quite beautiful.
Koginut/Autumn Frost Squash
Koginut Squash are generally round to cuboid in shape with curved edges, averaging 15 to 20 centimeters in diameter, and slightly vary in appearance depending on growing conditions. The rind is smooth and firm, ripening from dark green to tan when mature. The flesh is dense, dry, and bright orange, encasing a central cavity filled with stringy fibers and flat, cream-colored seeds. Koginut squashes are known for their silky, tender, and creamy consistency when cooked and develop a very sweet, nutty flavor with notes of citrus and vanilla.
Green Acorn Squash is small to medium, averaging 12-20 centimeters in length and 10-12 centimeters in diameter, with an ovoid shape lined with deeply furrowed ridges that taper to a point opposite of the stem end. The smooth skin or rind is light green when young and transforms into deep green with yellow and orange patches when mature. The flesh is moist and spongy with a hollow center, containing stringy pulp and many small, flat, cream-colored seeds. When cooked, the yellow-orange flesh becomes tender and offers a mildly sweet and nutty flavor with a somewhat dry texture.
Spaghetti Squash is small to medium, averaging 30 centimeters in length, 15 centimeters in diameter, and 4-8 pounds. It has an oblong and cylindrical shape similar to a melon, connected to a small, rough, light brown stem. The rind is firm and smooth and transforms from green to a vibrant canary yellow or pale-yellow when mature. The flesh is thick, dense, moist, and pale-yellow, housing a large cavity filled with stringy pulp and flat, cream-colored seeds. Spaghetti squash is best known for its unique flesh that separates into long, translucent strings resembling angel hair pasta. When cooked, the texture of the squash is tender with a slight crunch and offers a very mild flavor.
Carnival Squash is medium-sized, averaging 12-20 centimeters in length and 10-12 centimeters in diameter. It has an ovoid shape lined with deeply furrowed ridges that taper to a point opposite of the stem end. This squash is a hybrid between the sweet dumpling squash and an acorn squash. The rind usually has a cream-colored background and is covered with stripes and speckles of green and orange. Warm temperatures yield greener squash. Carnival squash is slightly sweeter than butternut squash, not too dry, and provides a buttery and maple syrup-like flavor.
Sweet Meat Squash
Sweet Meat Squash is medium to large, with an average weight of 10-20 pounds each. It’s an heirloom winter squash that offers a rich, deliciously sweet, deep orange, dry, fine-grained, stringless flesh with a hard outer shell and a bluish-grey color surrounding it. This squash gets tastier over time as it ages and has a shelf life of about six months, depending on proper storage. Sweet Meat squash can be a great substitute for pumpkin flavors in dishes like pies and soups, providing a sweet, nutty flavor.
Black Futsu Squash
The Black Futsu Squash is a medium-sized squash, averaging 3-5 pounds at maturity. The skin is bumpy and textured, covered in wart-like bumps, having a dark green look when younger and a pale orangey-brown color as it ages. A blue-grey bloom or film develops on its skin, creating a dusty, rough-looking texture. Under its thin skin, the Black Futsu has a firm, fine-grained, crisp, and bright orange skin that encases the central cavity filled with stringy fibers and oval and flat cream-colored seeds. When raw, these squashes have a sweet and slightly nutty flavor, but when cooked, they taste similar to roasted chestnuts and provide a smooth, creamy texture.
The Delicata Squash is small to medium, with a height ranging from 12-24 inches, a cylindrical shape with grooved skin and lines that run the length of the squash. The skin is smooth and thin, with a creamy yellow base and green and orange vertical stripes. The flesh is firm, thick, and fine-grained, with a yellow to orange color. The central cavity contains stringy pulp with many flat and hard seeds. When cooked, The Delicata Squash is sweet, rich, and moist, much like the texture of a sweet potato. This squash gets its name from its delicate skin, which can be left on the squash when preparing it and adding it to different meals.
The Sunshine Squash is small to medium-sized, averaging 3-8 pounds. It is round and squat with a top and bottom that is both flattened. The thin rind is coarse, textured, and bright orange-red, similar to a pumpkin but with uneven light yellowish tan stripes and splotches on its sides. The flesh is thick, dense, and string-less with a vibrant yellow to orange hue, containing a small central seed cavity. When cooked, Sunshine squash has a tender and smooth texture with a dry, buttery, exceptionally sweet, and nutty flavor. It can be good for up to 2 months when stored in a cool and dry place.
Winter Luxury Squash
The Winter Luxury Squash is a small to medium-sized squash with an average weight of about 6 pounds. These squash have a thick, dense, and sweet flesh with an orange skin netted in a fine, almost powder-like veil. This squash has an unusual skin texture, giving it a rich, velvety appearance. This squash is more used to mimic the flavor of a pumpkin, so it’s best for baking, roasting, or using in soups. It provides a rich, sweet, and velvety taste to any dish that has the pleasure of including it.
Written by Gabby MacAllister, Produce Supervisor