Long before the Mayflower settled on Plymouth Rock, Native Americans were cultivating varieties of our favorite fall symbol – winter squash. The different members of the cucurbita family (squash, pumpkins, and gourds) became a mainstay for early colonists as both a food and medicine. These early years of harvesting solidified their place in American custom and according to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, the first “pumpkin pie” was made by early settlers who hollowed out a pumpkin and filled it with apples, sweeteners, spices and milk.
The terms winter and summer squash originate from a time when seasons were more crucial to survival. Winter squash is harvested during the fall when their rind hardens and can be stored until spring, lasting through the critical cold months. Today, winter squash is available year round and can be found in various colors, sizes, and flavors. The most well-known varieties include butternut, spaghetti, and acorn squash, but local farmers are helping us explore the lesser known members of the winter squash family, bringing the adorable sweet dumpling and the warty heirloom, Galeux D’Eysines, to market.