What is squash?
The colours and shapes of squash add vibrancy to ratatouille, a stew where the luscious juices of vegetables meld and produce a delicious taste sensation that elevates a simple meal of roast lamb or chicken to another level.
Archaeological records show that squash was part of the diet of people in the Americas in 3000 BC. It appeared in Europe in the 16th century and pictures from the Renaissance period show various forms of squash.
Marrow, zucchini and other squash have become popular in Australia and are found in many home gardens.
In Australia, squash is usually sold by variety. Button squash (yellow squash), marrow, zucchini and spaghetti squash are some of the common varieties that are available.
Squash comes in different shapes and sizes. Button squash has yellow skin with a circular, scalloped edge, whereas marrow can be long with white or striped green skin.
Why squash is good to eat
- Squash is an excellent source of vitamins C and B2 (riboflavin) and folate.
- It also contains minerals such as potassium (which helps to regulate blood pressure) and manganese (involved in the regulation of brain and nerve function).
- Squash contains dietary fibre, which is important for a healthy bowel.
- Energy – 100 g of squash supplies around 85 kJ.
How are they grown and harvested?
Squash plants grow best in mild temperatures and need plenty of water. The plants grow as bushes or trailing vines along the ground. The seeds or seedlings grow quickly once planted.
The plant is ready to harvest 60 to 70 days after planting. The squash is usually 4–7 cm wide at this stage. Squash has soft skin and care needs to be taken to avoid bruising or damaging the skin.
Growing squash commercially is very labour-intensive, as it needs to be harvested frequently and by hand.
Choose squash that have glossy and smooth skin. They should feel heavy for their size. Avoid squash with visible damage to the skin or those that feel soft or spongy to the touch.
How to store and keep squash
Store squash in a vegetable storage bag in the crisper section of your fridge. Squash should be used within three to five days, as the flavour and quality deteriorates with long storage. Cut squash should be used within one to two days.
How to use
- Thread squash onto skewers with mushrooms and tomatoes and toss on the barbeque – goes well with grilled meat, chicken or fish.
- Stuff marrow with a mixture of mince, freshly chopped herbs and yoghurt, seasoned with cayenne pepper, ground cumin and allspice – bake until tender.
- Jazz up your vegetable side dish – cook sliced yellow squash, green beans and asparagus, dress with olive oil and then scatter with fresh herbs, anchovies (or bacon pieces) and toasted pine nuts.
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Better Health Channel
Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Health & Human Services shall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.