All about winter squash

It’s bumpy, it’s blue (or deep green and maybe stripy) and it’s delicious – but you might never have dared to cook it up before now. Here are our tips for how to care and prepare Prairie Gardens winter squash.

You can find all these varieties in our indoor pumpkin patch – open daily 2:30–4:30 weekdays and 9–6 weekends until the end of October. Stick around on Saturday and Sunday for the Haunted Pumpkin Fest.

Blue Hubbard

Big, bumpy, sweet and a remarkable icy blue colour

Care: Because they are thick skinned they keep well – up to five months if kept cool and dry. And they sweeten over time.

Prepare: They are dense and moist with a pumpkin flavor. Cut in half down the length, pierce with fork and bake at 300 for 15 minutes. Then cube and roasted or mash with butter and warm spices like cinnamon, cumin, rosemary and my favourite, cloves.

Orange Kabocha

Japanese pumpkins are deep green with stripes 

Care: Keep cool until ripeness peaks 1 1/2 to 3 months after picking. Flesh will be deep reddish-yellow (that’s what provides 70% of your daily beta-carotene in one serving).

Prepare: Moist fluffy texture, very sweet. Used most often in tempura and rumoured to have aphrodisiac qualities. Use in curries, stews and instead of cornstarch to thicken soups. You can eat the skin too.

Sweet Mama

Ironically, not the sweetest on our list, go figure

Care: Keeps very well when cool. Leave stem on to seal in moisture and store dry (don’t wash before storage) and uncovered for up to four months.

Prepare: Dry and dense, so great in soups, stews and casseroles. Also great steamed for pies.

Butternut Squash

Sweet, creamy, nutritious and popular variety

Care: Choose one that feels heavy for its size and store in a cool dark place for two or three months. Ripe fruits have thicker skins to help them keep.

Prepare: Can be cut into matchsticks, roasted and fried or used in risotto, mac and cheese, stew and chili. Boil the seeds for 10 minutes in salted water and roast them (more tender than pumpkin seeds).

Blue pumpkins

Icy blue skin, orange flesh, round and smooth