Nutritious winter squash comes in many shapes and sizes. But unlike summer squash, there is no such thing as an “overgrown” winter squash. Rather, the longer the squash grows, the sweeter it will be.
After picking, however, squash may be damaged by poor storage. Clues to good quality are a smooth, dry skin, free of cracks or soft spots. Moreover, the skin should be dull. A shiny skin indicates that the squash was picked too early and will not have the full sweetness of a mature squash.
Deep color is also a sign of a good winter squash:
- Green acorn squash may have splashes of orange, but avoid any that have orange on more than half the surface.
- Butternut squash should be uniformly tan, with no tinge of green.
A winter squash should feel heavy for its size. If possible, choose squash with their stems attached, as these are also indicators of quality. The stems should be rounded and dry, not collapsed, blackened, or moist.
Some very large squash, such as calabaza, banana, or Hubbard, are sold cut into quarters or chunks and wrapped in plastic. When buying cut squash, look for a rich interior color.