How to choose from seven easy-to-find types of squash
Although available all year, winter squash is best enjoyed during harvest season—late summer through early winter. Choose very hard squash: press firmly all over to make sure the rind isn’t soft (a sign of immaturity or improper storage.) During harvest season, look for vivid colors—the skin color should not look washed out. Later in the year, after the squash has been stored, the skin color may fade as the flesh becomes sweeter. Regardless of the season, the skin should not look shiny—a sign that it’s either underripe or that it’s waxed, possibly masking bad quality. Choose squash with a remnant of the dried-out stem still attached, like a small knob at one end. A missing stem can be a sign of mold and bacteria growth inside. Store in a cool spot with good air circulation (not the refrigerator, but a cool pantry or cellar) for up to a month. If you buy precubed squash at your market, make sure the pieces are dry, firm and vivid in color. Avoid those that look wet or desiccated with sunken striations in the flesh.
Photos Courtesy of Melissa’s World Variety Produce