Butternut Squash: What Is It And What Does It Taste Like

Are you feeling a bit adventurous these days and want to try something new food-wise?

Or did you just walk past the butternut squash in the supermarket and thought to yourself:

...Hmm, I wonder what does butternut squash taste like

You’re not the only one; as I’ve recently discovered, a lot of people seem to neglect it during their trips to the supermarket – it’s no wonder no one knows what it tastes like.

But if you’re willing to give it a try, I’ll do my best not only to describe its taste, but to provide other valuable information, too.

Learn More About Butternut Squash: Origins And General Info

Otherwise known as butternut pumpkin or gramma (mostly in Australia and New Zeland), butternut squash is a type of winter squash, that’s been around for human consumption for a long time.

I’ve noticed one thing while talking to people about it – a lot of them make the same mistake by assuming it’s a vegetable

I imagine you’re sitting there like: What? Is it NOT a vegetable?

The reason behind this confusion is that they were taught to prepare it in a certain way - a way that is commonly used for cooking vegetables.

The first example that comes to mind is the squash soup; other than that, butternut squash can be toasted, roasted, and mashed

Fruit, huh? 

What Does Butternut Squash Taste Like?

So, you never had the chance to try butternut squash before, and now you’re not sure what to expect?

I get it: you want to make sure there’s a good chance you’ll like it before you spend money and time on preparing it.

If you’d ask my husband what butternut squash tastes like, he’d tell you it tastes a lot like sweet potatoes – and that description isn’t that far off.

Another excellent way to describe it would be - pumpkin, but sweeter.

The sweetness isn’t overbearing, though. It turns out to be delicate enough to mix rather well with all sorts of dishes and herbs. Besides the sweetness, there’s a nutty dose to it, as well.

Of course, it depends on how you prepare it, too. The resemblance to sweet potatoes is especially noticeable when it’s served in the form of a puree – that’s where my husband got the idea.

And if you want to make the sweetness stand out, even more, try roasting it; I promise you won't be disappointed.

Maybe I’ll get around to sharing my favorite recipes that include butternut squash, but for now, I’ll focus on describing the flavor as it is. As I said previously, it's a part of a large group – the winter squash.

Let me tell you something:

In comparison to its relatives, it’s by far the sweetest one.

The first time I tried it, I didn’t think about sweet potatoes or pumpkins or anything else - the first time I had the chance to try a dish that included butternut squash, it made me think of autumn.

I know a lot of you are raising their eyebrows reading this, but I hope at least someone gets me: it’s what you’d imagine autumn tastes like.

That’s the best way to describe it, period. No wonder it’s the fall’s most beloved fruit (or vegetable, whichever you prefer saying – as long as you keep in mind that it is, in fact, fruit).

Here’s the truth about what butternut squash tastes like: to some, it tastes like sweet potatoes, others think it’s more like pumpkin, but you can expect it to be delicious either way.

Let’s Talk About Health: Nutritional Value Of Butternut Squash 

I did a little research on the nutritional value of butternut squash as I always do before making something a regular part of my family’s diet.

As it turns out, it was considered so nutritious by the Native Americans, that they wanted to bury their dead with it to make sure they had enough nourishment in the afterlife. 

Okay, no one is getting buried with butternut squash here - but eating it as much as you want is strongly encouraged. The reason behind it is pretty straightforward: it’s excellent for you.

So, what’s the deal with butternut squash? What makes it exceptional? 

It must be the incredible nutritional value. Let’s take a look at what goes into one serving of butternut squash – you’ll see for yourself what all the fuss is about:

  • 82 calories – And that’s per serving, which is somewhere around 200 grams, so it’s crazy low. 
  • 457 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin A - That’s four times the amount of your daily needs in just one portion!
  • 52 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C

Oh, and the list of minerals present in butternut squash is an impressive one, as well:

  • 18 percent of the recommended daily value of manganese
  • 17 percent of the recommended daily value of potassium
  • 15 percent of the recommended daily value of magnesium

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons for this fruit to be a part of all your autumn-inspired recipes.


A Trip To The Supermarket: Picking Out The Best One

Since it’s a seasonal fruit, the period between September and late October is ideal to buy locally grown butternut squash in the U.S. However; you can find it at other times, too, it just means they’re imported.

The question is: do you know how to choose the right one?

Here’s how you can pick the best one out of the bunch:

  • check
    Make sure it feels heavy for its size.
  • check
    It shouldn’t have any punctures or cuts.
  • check
    There can’t be any bruises on the squash.
  • check
    Don’t buy it if it has frostbite scars, either.

The first (and only) time I asked my husband to go pick up butternut squash on his way home, he bought one that had some cuts on its side, but I didn’t know that at the time, of course.

So, imagine my surprise when I went to grab it and discovered it had gone all moldy. 

Yuck! 

You might be thinking: Why is she talking about moldy butternut squash?

The answer is simple: to make you realize how significant these requirements are.

A damaged butternut squash will decay in no time, but if you pick the right one, you can store it for a couple of weeks without any issues.


Can You Grow Butternut Squash On Your Own?

Now that you know all about the nutritional value of butternut squash, you’re probably wondering if you could grow it yourself; I know I did.

Since I managed to grow my own butternut squash successfully, I’m going to share some gardening tips with you so you could do the same.

  • Planting – You should wait at least until mid-spring, or late spring, depending on the climate you live in; if the soil is still cold, the seeds won’t germinate. Here’s another tip: plant the seeds in hilled soil.
  • Add Compost – It will need well-draining, rich soil to grow, so if the soil in your garden is poor, you should mix in a substantial amount of compost.
  • Watch For Bugs – If you live in an area where pests are a problem, you should take the necessary measures to protect your plants from infestation.
  • Keep The Soil Moist – Since it grows during the summer, you’ll need to water it every few days, to keep the soil moist enough. Of course, avoid getting the leaves wet, because it can cause sunburn and powdery mildew.
  • Wait For Them To Be Fully Ripe – Be patient; wait until your butternut squash is fully ripe. I like to press my nails into the surface to check if it’s ripe – when I’m not able to make a dent in it anymore, I know they’re ready to be harvested.

Conclusion

All this talk about its sweet flavor made my mouth water like crazy.

What about you?

Did you finally decide it’s time to give butternut squash a try? 

In case you did, I’d recommend making butternut squash puree - it would be best to start with something that has a familiar taste.

Once you try it for the first time, you can move on to experimenting with spices and different preparation methods. It won’t be long before it becomes your favorite autumn fruit. 

Bon Appétit! 🙂

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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