One of the best things about this time of year is the abundance of gorgeous and delicious winter squash. Unlike their summer counterparts, winter squash have thick, hard skin and seeds; the flesh is firm and requires cooking. Some varieties are available year round, but winter squash are best now through winter. When purchasing squash, look for heavy pieces with blemish free skin and deep colored rinds. Winter squash doesn't need to be refrigerated; store in a cool, dark spot for up to a month. When using a recipe that calls for a certain type of winter squash, be sure to refer to the following glossary. To take a look at it,

Acorn: Found in most supermarkets, this is a dark green variety with subtle chestnut flavors and edible flesh.

Butternut: Easy to find in grocery stores, this is a beige variety with a taste similar to sweet potatoes.

Buttercup: A member of the turban squash family, this dark green variety has a very hard shell with creamy orange flesh.

Carnival: A beautiful variety with orange and green spots. The meat is delicate and similar to butternut squash.

Hubbard: One of the best keeping winter squashes, these are irregularly shaped with warted skin. It's an excellent source of vitamin A and the flesh is best as a seasoned mash or puree.

Kabocha: This jade green squash is also known as the Japanese pumpkin. It has a rich sweet flavor and dry, flaky flesh.

Pumpkin: The most common and popular of the squash family with a sweet, honey flavor.

Spaghetti: Yellow and watermelon shaped; when cooked the meat separates into spaghetti-like strands. When baked whole, the flesh is easy to remove from the rind.

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