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Types of winter squahes

Winter squashes can be categorised according to their fruit shape, though not all cultivars fit neatly into a specific category. Some of the more distinctive and popular ones include the following:

Acorn (C. pepo)

Looking vaguely like an acorn, the smallish fruit are somewhat oval-shaped and ribbed. The skin is normally dark green, though in some cultivars it can be either ivory, orange or even multi-coloured as in ‘Harlequin’ (given an AGM; see below)

Buttercup (C. maxima)

Fruit are round and ­­– to varying degrees – flattened, with a protruding ‘button’ on the blossom end. Skin is normally green, though it is orange in some cultivars.

Butternut (C. moshata)

The elongated fruit are sometimes cylindrical-shaped, but normally have a neck of solid flesh that enlarges into a bulb where the seed cavity is located. The skin is coloured a light brown or tan.

Gem (C. pepo)

The fruit are dark green, roundish and about the size of a cricket ball.

Hubbard (C. maxima)

Depending on the cultivar, the fruit are sometimes teardrop-shaped with a flat blossom end (as in ‘Red Kuri’), but are usually oval-shaped, tapering at both ends to form short necks. Skin colour is either blue, green or orange.

Kabocha (C. maxima)

Japanese-style squash similar in shape to butternut, but without the ‘button’. Skin can be orange, grey or green.

Pumpkin (C. pepo and C. maxima)

A contentious category that in the narrow sense includes orange- (and sometimes white-) coloured fruit of C. pepo and C. maxima that are flattened, round or oval in shape. Popular for Halloween Jack-o-lanterns, some of the bigger ones are used in giant vegetable contests. Others such as ‘Baby Bear’ are not only ideal for pies but also produce ‘naked’ seeds that are excellent for eating.

Turban (C. maxima)

The fruit have an exaggerated enlargement at their blossom end, supposedly giving them the appearance of a turban. The colourful ‘Turk’s Turban’ can be used as an ornamental, though the warty, grey-green ‘Marina di Chioggia’ is more valuable in the kitchen.