Sweet meat squash is favored for its savory, deep orange flesh. A winter squash, its hard, silver-gray skin makes it a good keeper, lasting up to six months in a cool, dry place after autumn harvest. Rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, minerals and beta carotene, a cup of cooked winter squash contains 75 to 80 calories. Sweet meat lends itself to simple cooking methods – the hardest part is cutting it open. Use a heavy-duty butcher knife to slice through the tough skin and dense flesh. A single squash weighs in at 10 to 15 lbs..
Cut a sweet meat in half, starting at the stem end and rocking a butcher knife up and down to cut through to the bottom, one side of the squash at a time. Scoop the seeds out with a metal spoon.
Line a large cooking or roasting pan with aluminum foil. Set the squash halves cut-side down on the pan.
Bake in a 350-degree F oven for up to 2 ½ hours, depending on the squash size. Beginning at 1 ½ hours, test the squash every half hour by pressing it with the back of a long-handled wooden spoon. When the squash is soft and yields to the pressure, it's done.
Peel the skin from wedges of sweet meat squash with a sharp paring knife. Cut the squash flesh into roughly equal-sized chunks, approximately 2 to 3 inches square.
Place a folding stainless-steel steamer basket in a pot. Add water until it just reaches the bottom of the basket. Put the squash pieces in the basket.
Set the pot on a burner set to high until the water boils. Turn the heat down to medium, allowing the water to simmer for up to 30 minutes. Check the squash, beginning at the 15-minute mark, by inserting the tip of a paring knife into a few pieces. When the squash is soft and the knife slides easily, remove from the heat and serve.
Place peeled sweet meat squash pieces, approximately 3 to 5 inches square, in a glass microwave-safe dish.
Sprinkle 2 tbsp. water over the squash, as sweet meat flesh can be very dry, particularly if it has been kept on a shelf for several months. Cover the dish loosely with plastic wrap.
Microwave on a high setting for 6 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes, then test for softness with the tip of a sharp knife. Continue to microwave in 2-minute increments, testing after each session, until the squash sections are soft throughout.
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- University of Illinois: Winter Squash
- The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times; Carol Deppe; 2010
- Healthy Eating for Life to Prevent and Treat Cancer; Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; 2002
- University of Kentucky; Kentucky Winter Squash and Pumpkin; Sandra Bastin, M.N.S., R.D.; 1997
- Once open, cover the cut side of unused portions of the squash with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
- Only buy sweet meat squash with the stem still attached and skin free of blemishes, bruises and cuts to prevent spoilage.
Denise Schoonhoven has worked in the fields of acoustics, biomedical products, electric cable heating and marketing communications. She studied at Newbold College and Middlesex Polytechnic in the UK, and Walla Walla University. A writer since 2008, Schoonhoven is a seasoned business traveler, solo tourist, gardener and home renovator.