A sure sign of the autumn season is the arrival of hard winter squashes in mass quantities throughout produce departments across the country. So many different colors and shapes are available, it’s really amazing. The two most popular are the butternut and acorn squashes. These are pretty easy to find year round. They are cheaper and better during the fall season. The two squashes look nothing alike. One is typically green (although you find them in white and other colors) and the other is a yellowish/brownish color. One is shaped just like an acorn, and the other is long with a round, swollen end. Appearance aside, what is the difference between the two, culinary speaking? If a recipe calls for one, can you replace it with the other one? Read along as I answer these questions and more, so you too can tell anyone that ask what is the difference between butternut and acorn squashes.
Examining the Butternut Squash
Yes they do both taste like squash. No doubt. And maybe if you haven’t had either of them at the same time or even within months of each other you might not recognize the differences. Yet there are some. Each one has it’s advantages over the other. I will say I do have a basis here towards the butternut squash, I prefer it. Let’s give each squash a chance to say what it can do. For your amusement, consider the squashes can talk and I am conducting an interview with them (just roll with me here, alright!)
Me: Thanks for joining me today, butternut.
Butternut: That is Waltham Butternut to you, sir.
Me: Pardon me for not address your full name. You are the standard and most popular variety of butternut squash found in virtually every seed catalog out there (like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds!) So tell me a little about yourself.
Butternut: First off you need to know when it comes to longevity, I am your squash. I have some of the longest storage potential of any of my winter squash cousins. Yet I am so delicious, you won’t be able to resist for long.
Me: And what makes you so irresistible?
Butternut: I am just so sweet and nutty. If you can’t resist eating me right away, you will be rewarded in time as I become sweeter and nuttier in flavor in storage. If you can possibly wait 3 months, and I doubt you can, you will really see how good I can be.
Me: Impressive! What about that skin of yours, can you eat it?
Butternut: It’s definitely more edible than those silly acorn squashes. Ever try peeling one of those?
Me: Oh yeah, getting into the ridges, not an easy task.
Butternut: I am ridge free so you can easily peel me without trouble.
Me: What else you got?
Butternut: Yes, volume. I contain a larger percentage of meat. You got more squash for your money. I only contain a small amount of seeds at the bottom end. Don’t forget to roast those.
Me: Oh I won’t. Oh tell me, why do most soup recipes call for butternut squash?
Butternut: It’s because I am so smooth. Puree me for a soup and you will have a silky smooth soup. I am not all stringy like those spaghetti squashes that everyone is raving about nowadays. Try making soup with that!
Me: Point taken. Last question. I have heard this rumor that you may even be a good replacement for a pie pumpkin. Care to comment.
Butternut: I am sweet. I have an orangish hue. I am pie waiting to happen.
Me: You indeed are. Thank you for your time, butternut
Butternut: Waltham Butternut!
Me: Yes, Waltham Butternut, so sorry.
Examining the Acorn Squash
To be a fair journalist, I need to give acorn squash, it’s equal time. Joining me now, the one and only, acorn squash.
Acorn: Thanks for having me. Should have had me go first.
Me: Yeah, sorry about that. Why should someone choose you.
Acorn: Unlike your precious butternut, I am perfect for stuffing. I have the perfect cavitity for feeling with all sorts of goodness.
Me: So your full of it?
Acorn: Hey, watch it mister. I don’t have to take your abuse.
Me: Sorry, sorry. Let’s move on. When is the best time to eat you?
Acorn: I don’t need to be stored for 3 months to be at my sweetest. Just give me a 2 weeks post harvest and you will be rewarded. But don’t let me turn orange, I become dry and stringy.
Me: What about your skin. I heard it’s tough and not easy to peel.
Acorn: Next question.
Me: If you were a potato, what can a potato would you be?
Acorn: No doubt, the wonderful Russet potato. It is more mealy like me. Just as it bakes up nice and fluffy, I also bake up more fluffy than my fellow squash.
Me: Alright, I think that is all. Thank you, acorn.
Acorn: No thanks to you, you bias butternut lover.
The Differences Between Acorn and Butternut Squash
So here is what we learned besides that the author of this blog is nuts.
Last a long time in storage
Has a sweet and nutty flavor
Easy to peel skin
More “meat” for your money
Makes a smooth puree for soups
Can be used a replacement for pumpkin
Great for stuffing
Best 2 weeks after harvest
Bakes more fluffy – drier texture
Can You Eat the Seeds of Acorn & Butternut Squashes
Absolutely! Just as you can roast pumpkin seeds, you can roast the seeds of these squashes as well. Follow my instructions for roasting pumpkin seeds. Note the time will depend on the size and thickness of the squash seeds you are roasting.