Acorn is a dark green or orange colour. It is a fluted variety with a distinct orange flesh. Its large seeds are similar to a pumpkin’s. It is the perfect squash for splitting and baking. A little underwhelming in flavour, it needs spicing.
Buttercup has a meaty, fairly dry texture and a sweet-enough flavour that it needs little enhancement. A touch of salt, pepper and butter is perfect. Use for ravioli fillings, risotto, casseroles and baking.
Butternut is the most popular squash today. It looks like a buff-coloured, pear-shaped club. Its flavour is a bit bland and the texture is watery but its smooth textures makes it ideal for soup.
Hubbard is the big daddy of squashes; it can weigh up to 100 pounds (50 kilograms). The rind is ridged and bumpy, its flesh is drier than butternut and ranges in colour from dark green to orange. Due to its size, it’s not commonly used.
Kaboka or kabocha is a gourmet squash. Green or blue grey on the outside and deep orange inside, it has a superb, rich flavour on the drier side.
Spaghetti squash is oval, yellow-coloured, and has a semi-hard outer shell. When baked, the pale yellow flesh separates into strands giving it a spaghetti-like look, but it does not have much flavour and is a bit watery.
Sweet dumpling is a small squash with a green-and-yellow-striped outer shell. It’s very sweet and is perfect baked whole with little enhancement. It is also good stuffed.
Sweet potato squash or delicata is the one thinner-skinned winter squash. It does not keep as well as the harder skinned ones. Cut in half and roast. It has a sweet taste and a creamy texture, making it an ideal side dish on its own.
To buy the best squash look for a hard, strongly coloured one that feels heavy for its size. Don’t buy any that have a bruised or scarred skin because they are subject to decay if their outer layer is damaged. Store in a cool, dark place for up to three months.