Butternut squash

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Cucurbita moschata 'Butternut'
Cucurbita moschata Butternut 2012 G2.jpg
Ripe butternut squash
Species Cucurbita moschata
Hybrid parentage 'Gooseneck squash' × 'Hubbard squash'
BreederCharles Leggett
Origin1940s in Stow, Massachusetts, United States
Butternut squash cut lengthwise showing seeds Cucurbita moschata 'Butternut' 3.jpg
Butternut squash cut lengthwise showing seeds
Butternut pumpkin (Australian term) Australian pumpkin terminology.jpg
Butternut pumpkin (Australian term)

Butternut squash ( Cucurbita moschata ), sometimes known in Australia and New Zealand as butternut pumpkin or gramma, [1] is a type of winter squash that grows on a vine. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. It has tan-yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp with a compartment of seeds in the blossom end. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. It is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium; and it is a source of vitamin A.


Although botanically a fruit, butternut squash is used culinarily as a vegetable that can be roasted, sautéed, toasted, puréed for soups such as squash soup, or mashed to be used in casseroles, breads, muffins, and pies. The squash is also used as an alternative diet for Monarch butterfly caterpillars alongside cucumbers.


The word "squash" comes from the Narragansett word askutasquash, meaning "eaten raw or uncooked". Although Native people may have eaten some forms of squash without cooking, today most squash is eaten cooked.

The late-growing, less symmetrical, odd-shaped, rough or warty kinds, small to medium in size, but with long-keeping qualities and hard rinds, are usually called winter squash.

The word "pumpkin" is derived from the old French term pompion, meaning eaten when "cooked by the sun", or ripe. In modern French, pumpkin is called potiron.

Spread from South and Central America

All three species of squashes and pumpkins are native to the Western Hemisphere. C. maxima, represented now by such varieties as Hubbard, Delicious, Marblehead, Boston Marrow, and Turks Turban, apparently originated in northern Argentina near the Andes, or in certain Andean valleys. At the time of the Spanish invasion it was found growing in such areas and has never since been found elsewhere except as evidently carried by man.

Since this is a plant that requires a fair amount of hot weather for best growth, it has never become very well known in northern Europe, the British Isles, or in similar areas with short or cool summers. Only long-vining plants are known in this species.

C. moschata, represented by such varieties as Cushaw and Winter Crookneck Squashes, and Japanese Pie and Large Cheese Pumpkins, is a long-vining plant native to Mexico and Central America. This species and C. pepo apparently originated in the same general area, Mexico and Central America. Both are important food plants of the natives, ranking next to maize and beans. The flowers and the mature seeds, as well as the flesh of the fruit, are eaten in some areas.

Before the arrival of Europeans, C. mosckata and C. pepo had been carried over all parts of North America where they could be grown, but they had not been carried into South America as had beans, which originated in the same general region. They were generally grown by American Natives all over what is now the United States. Many of these tribes, particularly in the West, still grow a diversity of hardy squashes and pumpkins not to be found in generic markets.

Although winter squashes are grown in many lands today, they are relatively unimportant with few exceptions. They are grown extensively in tropical America, in Japan, and in certain districts in the United States. The calabazas of the West Indies and the forms grown by the natives of present-day Mexico and Central America are not of uniform, pure varieties, but are extremely variable as to size, shape, and color. Since these species are normally cross-pollinated, it is difficult to keep a variety pure.


Butternut squash will store for two to three months. They are best kept at 10 °C (50 °F) with 50 percent humidity. [2]


Butternut squash, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 188 kJ (45 kcal)
11.69 g
Dietary fiber 2 g
0.1 g
1 g
Vitamins Quantity%DV
Vitamin A equiv.
532 μg
4226 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.1 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.02 mg
Niacin (B3)
1.2 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.4 mg
Vitamin B6
0.154 mg
Folate (B9)
27 μg
Vitamin C
21 mg
Vitamin E
1.44 mg
Minerals Quantity%DV
48 mg
0.7 mg
34 mg
0.202 mg
33 mg
352 mg
0.15 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

A 100g serving of butternut squash contains 45 calories, 11.69 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein, and negligible fat content and is a rich source of vitamin A and a moderate source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin E. It also contains moderate levels of magnesium and manganese.

Butternut squash seeds have been cited for reducing social anxiety disorder within an hour of consumption in a double-blind trial. [3]

Culinary uses

One of the most common ways to prepare butternut squash is roasting. Once roasted, it can be eaten in a variety of ways. [4] The fruit is prepared by removing the skin, stalk, and seeds, which are not usually eaten or cooked. [5] However, the seeds are edible, either raw or roasted, and the skin is also edible and softens when roasted.

In Australia, it is regarded as a pumpkin, and is used interchangeably with other types of pumpkin.[ citation needed ]

In South Africa, butternut squash is commonly used and often prepared as a soup or grilled whole. Grilled butternut is typically seasoned with spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon or stuffed (e.g. spinach and feta) before being wrapped in foil and grilled. Grilled butternut is often served as a side dish to braais (barbecues) and the soup as a starter dish.

Butternuts were introduced commercially in New Zealand in the 1950s by brothers Arthur and David Harrison who were nurserymen and market gardeners in Otaki.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Cucurbita</i> A genus of herbaceous vines in the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, also known as cucurbits, native to the Andes and Mesoamerica

Cucurbita is a genus of herbaceous vines in the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, also known as cucurbits, native to the Andes and Mesoamerica. Five species are grown worldwide for their edible fruit, variously known as squash, pumpkin, or gourd depending on species, variety, and local parlance, and for their seeds. Other kinds of gourd, also called bottle-gourds, are native to Africa and belong to the genus Lagenaria, which is in the same family and subfamily as Cucurbita but in a different tribe. These other gourds are used as utensils or vessels, and their young fruits are eaten much like those of Cucurbita species.

Cucumber Species of plant

Cucumber is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae. It is a creeping vine that bears cucumiform fruits that are used as vegetables. There are three main varieties of cucumber: slicing, pickling, and seedless. Within these varieties, several cultivars have been created. In North America, the term "wild cucumber" refers to plants in the genera Echinocystis and Marah, but these are not closely related. The cucumber is originally from South Asia, but now grows on most continents. Many different types of cucumber are traded on the global market.

Spaghetti squash group of cultivars of squash

Spaghetti squash or vegetable spaghetti is a group of cultivars of Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo. They can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, including ivory, yellow and orange, with orange having the highest amount of carotene. Its center contains many large seeds and when raw, the flesh is solid and similar to other raw squash. When cooked, the meat of the fruit falls away from the flesh in ribbons or strands that look like, and are often substituted as a healthier option for, spaghetti.

Acorn squash type of squash

Acorn squash, also called pepper squash or Des Moines squash, is a winter squash with distinctive longitudinal ridges on its exterior and sweet, yellow-orange flesh inside. Although considered a winter squash, acorn squash belongs to the same species as all summer squashes.

<i>Cucurbita pepo</i> Cultvated plant that yields varieties of squash and pumpkin

Cucurbita pepo is a cultivated plant of the genus Cucurbita. It yields varieties of winter squash and pumpkin, but the most widespread varieties belong to the subspecies Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo, called summer squash.

Zucchini Edible summer squash, typically green in color

The zucchini or courgette is a summer squash, of Mesoamerican origin, which can reach nearly 1 m in length, but is usually harvested when still immature at about 15 to 25 cm. A zucchini is a thin-skinned cultivar of what in Britain and Ireland is referred to as a marrow. In South Africa, a zucchini is known as a baby marrow.

Calabaza type of pumpkin

Calabaza, also known as calabasa or West Indian pumpkin, is a winter squash typically grown in the West Indies, tropical America, and the Philippines. Calabaza is the common name for Cucurbita moschata in Cuba, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. C. moschata is also known as auyama in the Dominican Republic; ayote in Central America; zapallo in South America; and "pumpkin", "squash", or "calabash" in English-speaking islands.

Kabocha Asian variety of winter squash of the species Cucurbita maxima

Kabocha is a type of winter squash, a Japanese variety of the species Cucurbita maxima. It is also called kabocha squash or Japanese pumpkin in North America. In Japan, "kabocha" may refer to either this squash, to the Western pumpkin, or indeed to other squashes.

Straightneck squash is a cultivated variety of Cucurbita pepo grown as a type of summer squash that is usually yellow-colored. It is also known as yellow squash, though other squashes, such as crookneck squash, may also be known by that name. It has mildly sweet and watery flesh, and thin tender skins that can be left on the fruit for many types of recipes. It was almost certainly domesticated in the eastern United States, although other variants of the same species were domesticated in Mesoamerica. This squash grows on vined plants reaching 60–90 cm (2.0–3.0 ft) in height that thrive in mild weather. It is well known as an item in American cooking where it is fried, microwaved, steamed, boiled, or baked. It is often used in recipes interchangeably with zucchini. A good yellow summer squash will be small and firm with tender skin free of blemishes and bruising. It is available all year long in some regions, but is at its peak from early through late summer. One similar inedible C. pepo variety is C. pepo var. ovifera.

Pumpkin seed Seeds of pumpkins and similar curcurbits

A pumpkin seed, also known in North America as a pepita, is the edible seed of a pumpkin or certain other cultivars of squash. The seeds are typically flat and asymmetrically oval, have a white outer husk, and are light green in color after the husk is removed. Some cultivars are huskless, and are grown only for their edible seed. The seeds are nutrient- and calorie-rich, with especially high content of fat, protein, dietary fiber, and numerous micronutrients. Pumpkin seed can refer either to the hulled kernel or unhulled whole seed, and most commonly refers to the roasted end product used as a snack.

<i>Cucurbita ficifolia</i> Species of plant

Cucurbita ficifolia is a species of squash, grown for its edible seeds, fruit, and greens. It has many common names in English such as the fig-leaf gourd, Malabar gourd, black seed squash and cidra. Although it is closely related to other squashes in its genus, such as the pumpkin, it shows considerable biochemical difference from them and does not hybridize readily with them.

<i>Cucurbita moschata</i> species of plant

Cucurbita moschata is a species originating in either Central America or northern South America. It includes cultivars known as squash or pumpkin. C. moschata cultivars are generally more tolerant of hot, humid weather than cultivars of C. maxima or C. pepo. They also generally display a greater resistance to disease and insects, especially to the squash vine borer. Commercially made pumpkin pie mix is most often made from varieties of C. moschata. The ancestral species of the genus Cucurbita were present in the Americas before the arrival of humans. Evolutionarily speaking the genus is relatively recent in origin as no species within the genus is genetically isolated from all the other species. C. moschata acts as the genetic bridge within the genus and is closest to the genus' progenitor.

Crookneck squash Cultivar of Cucurbita pepo

Crookneck squash, also known as yellow squash, is a cultivar of Cucurbita pepo, the species that also includes some pumpkins and most other summer squashes. The plants are bushy and do not spread like the plants of winter squash and pumpkin. Most often used as a summer squash, it is characterized by its yellow skin and sweet yellow flesh, as well as its distinctive curved stem-end or "crooked neck". It should not be confused with crookneck cultivars of Cucurbita moschata, such as the winter squash 'Golden Cushaw', or the vining summer squash 'Tromboncino'. Its name distinguishes it from another similar-looking variety of C. pepo, the straightneck squash, which is also usually yellow. There is one similar non-edible C. pepo variety: C. pepo var. ovifera.

Delicata squash

Delicata squash is a variety of winter squash with cream-coloured cylindrical fruits striped in green or orange that are cooked. As its name suggests, it has characteristically a delicate rind. It is also known as peanut squash, Bohemian squash, or sweet potato squash. It is a cultivar of the species Cucurbita pepo, which also includes the summer squash varieties pattypan squash, zucchini, and yellow crookneck squash, as well as winter squash varieties including acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and most pumpkins used as Jack-o-lanterns.

Winter squash Squash harvested and eaten in mature fruit stage; skin hardened into tough rind

Winter squash is an annual fruit representing several squash species within the genus Cucurbita. It differs from summer squash in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. At this stage, most varieties of this fruit can be stored for use during the winter. Winter squash is generally cooked before being eaten, and the skin or rind is not usually eaten as it is with summer squash.

<i>Cucurbita maxima</i> family of winter squash

Cucurbita maxima, one of at least four species of cultivated squash, is one of the most diverse domesticated species. This species originated in South America from the wild Cucurbita andreana over 4000 years ago. The two species hybridize quite readily but have noticeably different calcium levels.

Pumpkin Cultivar of a squash plant

A pumpkin is a cultivar of winter squash that is round with smooth, slightly ribbed skin, and most often deep yellow to orange in coloration. The thick shell contains the seeds and pulp. The name is most commonly used for cultivars of Cucurbita pepo, but some cultivars of Cucurbita maxima, C. argyrosperma, and C. moschata with similar appearance are also sometimes called "pumpkin".

Red kuri squash Type of winter squash

Red kuri squash is thin skinned orange colored winter squash, that has the appearance of a small pumpkin without the ridges. It belongs to the Hubbard squash group.

Tromboncino (squash)

Tromboncino, also known as zucchetta, is a type of squash most often used as a summer squash. While nearly all summer squash are cultivars of Cucurbita pepo, tromboncino is a cultivar of Cucurbita moschata. The vining growth habit is similar to many winter squashes, but unlike most other summer squash. It is more tolerant to some common summer squash pests, including squash vine borer, squash bugs, and powdery mildew, than the more commonly grown, bushy, C. pepo summer squash cultivars. The plants are slower to start producing than some C. pepo types. The fruit color is usually pale green, fading to beige upon maturity, and it is picked around one foot long for summer squash. It is an heirloom, originally from Liguria, and remains popular throughout Italy and abroad. Tromboncino squash can be left to mature into a winter squash; such is often compared to a watery butternut squash. If left to ripen, the fruits can grow over three feet in length.

Honeynut squash Miniature winter squash

Honeynut squash is a winter squash cultivar bred from butternut and buttercup squash. It has a similar shape and flavor to butternut squash but averages about half the size and is significantly sweeter. It has dark tan to orange skin and orange fleshy pulp. When ripe, it turns from green to a deep orange and becomes sweeter and richer. It has two to three times more beta-carotene than butternut squash. Although technically a fruit, honeynut squash is used as a vegetable that can be roasted, sautéed, puréed, added to soups, stews, and braises, and is suitably sweet for desserts.


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  4. Randhawa, Jessica (3 September 2018). "Butternut Squash". The Forked Spoon. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  5. "Butternut Squash". Veg Box Recipes. 2008. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2013.