Winter Squash Varieties & Where to Bulk Buy Different Types of Squashadmin
Squash season is still going strong! We’ll talk about the most popular types of winter squash, what makes them stand out, and where to buy the best wholesale squash for your seasonal delicacies!
Squash is a fall and winter staple that resurfaces every year for a good reason. Nutritious, versatile, and remarkably storage-friendly, it’s a go-to ingredient for many seasonal pies, soups, and sides. But how much do you know about the most sought-after winter squash varieties? From the nutty, sweet-potato-like Kabocha to the creamy, ever-versatile Butternut, we’ll talk about the best winter squash varieties and where to buy quality wholesale squash this time of year.
What are the Different Types of Squash? (Summer vs. Winter)
We can divide squash into two major categories: summer squash and winter squash.
Summer squash varieties are, as one may expect, harvested from June through late August. They usually have soft, glossy skins and tender consistency, resulting in overall shorter shelf life. Hence, they are sometimes also referred to as ‘tender squash.’ You’ll notice that summer squash come in many shapes and sizes, from the larger, cooking-friendly Zucchini to the delicate, nutrient-packed Baby squash. Other popular varieties include Chayote, Cousa, Crookneck, Tromboncino, Pattypan, and Tatuma.
Now, despite a common misconception, we don’t harvest winter squash varieties in winter — but from late summer through the end of fall. What truly sets winter squash apart from their summer cousins is the thicker skin that toughens into a rind. This robust exterior helps winter squash store so well that most varieties are available almost year-round! Popular types include Butternut, Acord, Delicata, Hubbard, Kabocha, and Red Kuri.
Winter Squash Varieties & How to Best Use Different Types of Squash
With peak season here, there’s no better time to experiment with the tough-shelled winter squash and enrich your fall-focused dishes. We’ll talk about no less than 12 popular winter squash varieties, what sets them apart in terms of consistency and flavor, plus the cooking techniques that make the best use of them!
Shaped like a cute little acorn nut, the Acorn squash is known for its mild, buttery flavor. Whether delicately sliced or stuffed and baked whole, its dark green skin is tasty and completely safe to eat. The flesh is healthy, somewhat fibrous, and occasionally stringy. Although it’s not as sweet as other winter squash varieties, the buttery taste profile of the Acorns quash pairs fairly well with spicy, sweet, spicy, or savory ingredients.
Acorn squash is best stuffed, mashed, puréed, or roasted, as in this Herb-Roasted Parmesan Acorn Squash recipe.
2. Golden Acorn
Gold Acorn is a relatively new variety of Acorn squash. Small to medium-sized and ovoid in shape, the tender flesh of the Gold Acorn squash releases a nutty, subtly sweet flavor. Its smooth, firm skin ranges from orange to yellow in color, hence the name. Gold acorn is versatile to cook Gold acorn squash is best for roasting, sautéing, baking, steaming, grilling, and stuffing. Like most winter squash varieties, it pairs brilliantly with sage, so be sure to check out this Golden Acorn Squash With Sage And Honey recipe.
One of the best-loved types of squash, the infamous Butternut is shaped like a bell, ranging from medium to large in size. It features a sweet, nutty taste profile resembling your classical pumpkin. The tan-yellow skin envelops a deep-orange, fleshy pulp. Its consistency is nutty, earthy, and sweeter than other winter squash varieties! Butternut is great as a side dish but also makes for a fantastic stuffed main course, as with this Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Kale.
This small heirloom variety is the go-to alternative to the widely celebrated Butternut. ‘Delicata’ has been named so for its fragile, edible skin – no peeling required! On top of its softer, baking-friendly exterior, Delicata is deeply valued for its full, creamy flavor with brown sugar undertones, which earned it the nickname sweet potato squash. This easy-to-cook gourd tastes best roasted with syrup, as seen in Roasted Delicata Squash with Maple Syrup and Thyme.
Honeynut may look just like a baby Butternut, but this adorable gourd conceals a sweeter, deeply flavored flesh with subtle hints of caramel. Harvested from late September through early October, Honeynut is bred specifically for its deep yet delicate taste profile. Not only does its tiny body pack a great deal of flavor and nutrients (like vitamin A and beta-carotene), but it’s also astonishingly versatile. The perfect addition to any fall menu, Honeynut squash tastes incredible glazed and well-roasted or stuffed with a balanced mix of veggies and aromatic herbs.
Kabocha gourds are nothing short of a staple in Japanese cuisine. This small green gourd has dense and tender flesh in reddish-yellow hues. Its chestnut-like flavor also carries slight tangy hints, earthy like Acorn but not quite as sweet as Butternut or Honeynut. Kabocha squash can be roasted, baked, curried, bathed in tempura batter and fried, or simmered in seasonal soups for a new depth of flavor!
7. Red Kuri
Also known as “orange Hokkaido squash,” Red Kuri is a popular Japanese squash variety. Small and thin-skinned, it resembles a pumpkin without ridges. Its orange skin gives way to firm flesh holding a gentle, mellow taste with hints of chestnut. Red Kuri tastes delicious baked, steamed, sautéed, stuffed, dipped in butter and cooked with aromatic herbs, or simmered in soups and stews—a versatile base for a wide range of seasonal dishes.
8. Blue Hubbard
The reach blue-green Hubbards are massive, oval, and plump. Blue Hubbards used to be taken on long sea journeys owing to their thick skin and fantastic shelf life (lasting up to 6 months in the pantry). Its bright-orange flesh is tender, starchy, and fine-textured, revealing nutty, balanced sweet notes when properly cooked. It’s best served baked, roasted, steamed, stewed, or puréed for pie and bread.
9. Sweet Dumpling
You may recognize this apple-sized winter squash variety by its tough rind with colorful pale yellow-green motifs – not only visually stunning but also edible! With a taste similar to that of sweet potato, Sweet Dumpling is particularly suitable for stuffing and roasting as a side dish. It’s also great scooped out, puréed with butter and cinnamon, or served with a savory maple syrup glaze!
A cross between an Acorn and Sweet Dumpling, the small, round Carnival is covered in an impressive blend of multicolored stripes and speckles. Its edible skin holds a light-orange flesh that will substitute well for other common winter squash varieties in virtually any recipe. Nutty with maple syrup hints, Carnival is actually sweeter than Butternut and less dry than Kabocha!
The magic of Spaghetti squash is more in the texture rather than the taste. Are you wondering how this winter gourd can easily become an incredible alternative to pasta? Of course, the flesh is firm when raw. But if you drag a fork through it after it’s cooked, you’ll end up with perfectly thin, noodle-like strands. It has a very mild taste profile, and it’s less starchy than other winter squash varieties. Due to its more neutral flavor, Spaghetti squash is best baked, boiled, or steamed in versatile combinations with other ingredients.
An heirloom predating 1820, Turban is a medium to large, multicolored squash variety that genuinely resembles a turban! You’ll easily distinguish it by its unique, uneven shape: it has a bumpy top much like a tiny hat! The sweet and nutty flavor of the Turban squash makes it suitable for curries, soups, stews, and baked dishes.
What is the Sweetest Winter Squash?
Most people believe the sweetest winter squash is Butternut. But a miniature yet worthy competitor is steadily stealing the title: Honeynut is, arguably, one of the sweetest winter squash varieties!
However, Butternut remains our second sweet gourd choice. Its tan-yellow skin peels off easily, revealing a bright-orange, nutty and moist flesh with very few seeds—no wonder it’s ever-popular with the chefs!
Where to Buy Winter Squash?
From the nutty Kabocha to the creamy and sweet Delicata, Riviera Produce carries a wide range of gourdgeous varieties for your seasonal pies, soups, and sides. Oh, and don’t forget to add a few gourds for your restaurant’s fall décor on your next order!
You can purchase the following LOCAL (NY, NJ) winter squash varieties on our website:
- Acorn (40lb case)
- Butternut (40lb case)
- Delicata (40lb case)
- Honeynut (20lb case)
- Hubbard (ea)
- Red Kuri (40lb case)
- Spaghetti (40lb case)
- Sweet Dumpling (40lb case)