Squash are fruits that grow on vines with an outer skin and fleshy insides that contain seeds. Many varieties of squash have bumps along their skin. This member of the genus Cucurbita and part of the Cucurbitaceae plant family are indigenous to North America. American Indians cultivated squash as a main crop along with beans and corn; these plants made up the "Three Sisters." Squash fall into two categories summer squash and winter squash.
Acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo) is a variety of winter squash. Winter squash are mature fruits that have thick outer skin and hard inner flesh. Typically, the outer skin of acorn squash is a dark green hue; however, some types have multiple colors. The fruit has an acorn shape that tapers near the bottom with deep bumpy ridges that cover the outer skin. Acorn squash has inner flesh of a golden yellow tone that taste sweeter when consumed later in the growing season. Other types of acorn squash include the golden acorn, which has a bright yellow outer skin.
Kabocha (Cucurbita maxima) is a Japanese variety of winter squash. In the middle of the 16th century, Portuguese traders introduced this squash to Japan, according to University of Massachusetts Amherst. This medium-sized squash weighs only 2 to 3 lbs.; however, some species grow up to 8 lbs. Kabocha is a short, squat squash with pumpkinlike shape. The outer shell of the Kabocha has a deep green skin with a bumpy texture. The dark yellow inner flesh has a sweet, delicate taste. "Kabocha" is the Japanese generic word for squash.
Yellow crooknecked squash (Cucurbita pepo) is a species of summer squash. Summer squash are immature fruits that have a thin outer skin and yellow inner flesh. This bottle shaped squash has a narrow, curved neck like a swan. The outer skin of the yellow crooknecked squash has a rough appearance with bumps covering the fruit; however, the skin actually has a smooth texture. Yellow crooknecked squashes have glossy yellow to orange skin. The inner flesh of the yellow crooknecked squash has a sweet flavor.
Hubbard squash (Cucurbita maxima) is a type of winter squash. This large species of squash weighs between 5 to 10 lbs. each and has a lumpy, irregular oval shape. The outer skin varies in color from dull blue to gray and dark green to orange. Hubbard squash have an outer skin with a heavily bumpy surface that resembles warts. The inner flesh of the Hubbard squash is a yellow shade and has a moist texture.
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