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Squash 101 by Heschke Gardens | St Paul Farmers Market

Squash 101 by Heschke Gardens | St Paul Farmers Market

Squash 101 by Heschke Gardens | St Paul Farmers Market

Heschke Gardens is a wholesale grower serving St. Paul, Western Wisconsin, and surrounding communities for over 40 years. They have over 52,000 square feet of growing capacity where they produce high-quality hanging baskets, patio pots, thousands of annuals, cut flowers, hostas and 75+ varieties of vegetable plants.

Harvesting Squash

We start picking in late September and finish in mid-October. Squash does not continue to ripen after they are harvested. Squash picked early will be shiny, softer-shelled, will be lacking in flavor, and will not keep well. Ripe squash will be hard-shelled and have a dull appearance, and most will have gold to an orange sport where the fruit sat on the ground while growing.

Curing Squash

After we harvest the squash we then start the curing process. The squash is left outside in the open air and sunshine for about a week. When the weather doesn’t agree, we store them in a greenhouse. This practice of curing triggers the fruits to dry down and start turning the starches to sugars. This process is also the start of the storage part of the journey to your plate.

Storing Squash

Once the harvesting and curing steps are finished it is now time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Squash keeps best at 50 – 60 degrees with good air circulation. Warmer than 60 degrees is better than cooler than 50 degrees. Keeping squash in the garage or refrigerator will greatly reduce its shelf life. The longer you wait in the fall to purchase squash for storing for winter the better. All of our squash is stored in our heated shop until sold.

Acorn Family Squash

Celebration Squash

This new Acorn-shaped squash is a result of a cross between an Acorn and a Delicata squash. The sweet, smooth flesh tastes somewhere between a Delicata and Acorn. Great as a side dish or stuffed with your favorite rice mixture or meatloaf. Should keep for at least a month with proper storage.

Goldilocks Squash

Acorn squash with dark orange skins and vibrant orange flesh. Sweet and creamy, a good choice for a dinner for two. Should keep for a month with proper storage.

Tip Top Squash

A hybrid Acorn that is more flavorful than the standard. The flesh is yellow, and orange and cooks to a creamy, nutty, sweet flavor. Great size for dinner for two. I like to cut it in 1″ rounds and pan fry in butter, add brown sugar or maple syrup at the end. This is a great side served with brussels sprouts and pork chops. should last for a month with proper storage. Pick up pork chops from Prairie Pride Farms.

Butternut Squash Family

Autumn Frost

A newer hybrid from the butternut family. Flesh is very sweet, has a nutty, flavorful, creamy texture. It makes a great side and can be used in every application for butternuts, soups, pies, baked goods, curries, and sauces. A good keeper, keeps for months with proper storage.


A newer hybrid resulting from a cross between a Kabocha and a Butternut. Very popular variety in Japan. This unique winter squash is commonly called a Japanese pumpkin. The nearly round dark green fruit has a deep yellow flesh that is sweet, nutty, smooth, and creamy like custard. Well suited for any pumpkin or winter squash recipe or simply used as a side dish. Should keep through the winter with proper storage. For optimal flavor, it is recommended to store for a month prior to eating.

Carnival Squash

This great tasting squash is the result of a cross between an Acorn and Delicata Squash. Fruits have a sweet nutty flavor like Delicata Squash and a creamy smooth texture of the Acorn. It’s a good choice as a side for a dinner for two. It should keep for more than two months with proper storage.

Hubbard Family Squash

Galeux D’ Eysines Squash

An elegant French Heirloom Squash with an appropriately elegant sounding name. The beautiful salmon-peach colored skin is covered in a pattern resembling peanut shells, a reaction from sugars beneath the skin.

Traditionally used in France for soups, stews, and sauces. When cooked the sweet orange flesh is as smooth as velvet, stores well and should keep for up to 6 months.

Mashed Potatoes Squash

A new hybrid Acorn Squash with a pure white outer shell. Bake, roast, or steam like any other variety of Acorn Squash. Mashed potatoes has ivory flesh that is sweet, silky, and absolutely delectable. Mashed Potatoes Squash makes a great side dish. For a great vegetable combo platter, start with a large mound of whipped mashed potatoes squash and surround it with roasted beets, Brussel sprouts, and rainbow colored carrots. All of which you can get at the Saint Paul Farmers Market!

Spaghetti Squash

A healthier substitute for pasta to go with all your favorite sauces. The fruits have a pale golden interior, and is stringy and dense- in a good way! After sliced in half and baked, use a fork to pry up the strands of flesh and you will see it resembles, and has the texture of perfectly cook spaghetti noodles. Spaghetti squash do not keep well like other winter squash. Use them within 2-4 weeks of purchase.

Sugaretti Squash

A breakthrough in squash breeding and a 2017 winner on AAS Vegetable Award. This new squash has the same basic uses as Spaghetti Squash. The difference lies in the flavor. The sweet, nutty, pale orange flesh is reminiscent of a sweet potato and can be used roasted, steamed, or baked. In addition as a pasta substitute, it can be blended into soups and sauces. It keeps longer than spaghetti squash, you can keep it for months with proper storage.

Sunshine Kabocha Squash

The tender flesh is smooth, sweet, and bright orange. This squash can be baked, steamed, or roasted. Use Sunshine Kabocha Squash for soups, pies, mashing, baking, and in any of your favorite dishes calling for pumpkin. The flavor and quality get better with age. The appearance and eating quality are superior to other varieties of this type. With proper storage these squash can be good for months.

Sweet Mama Squash

Superior to other green Kabocha varieties. Dark yellow, meaty flesh with a sweet nutty flavor. Makes a great side and can used in soups, pies, curries, gratins, and baked goods. The squash should keep for a month with proper storage.

Sweet Meat Squash

This is the original Gill Brothers strain, one of the Heirloom treasures of the northwest. It can be baked, steamed, or roasted and then used in all your pumpkin recipes. Makes a great pie! This squash should keep for months with proper storage. For the best flavor this squash should not be used before November.

Winter Sweet Kabocha

This squash is known for it’s unparalleled eating quality and extra long storage time. Winter Sweet delivers a combination of sweetness, flaky texture, and depth of flavor that has made it a favorite among our customers. The flesh can be used in any recipe calling for pumpkin. It’s great as a side dish, it cooks up a bit on the dry side, so you may need some extra butter or olive oil. It’s best eating quality is between 2-5 months after harvest. It keeps all winter long if stored properly.

The Best Tips for Opening Up Squash

How to get your squash to open up?

Dismantling your squash to prepare it for whatever cooking process you use, can be both labor intensive and downright dangerous. My Mother who is 86 years young and longer able to participate in the kitchen, thru her years of meal preparation, she would simply take the squash outside to the cement patio, raise the squash over her head and slam it to the ground. This method worked every time, however sometimes there were many pieces to pick up, wash, and arrange in her pan, and then bake .

Unfortunately, for those who live in apartments or condos that are void of that very important cement slab, thus missing out on that important stress relieving way to open your squash. There is however another alternative to preparing your squash that will leave your fingers intact and avoid any possibility of stitches. The best way to open your squash is to use the ever popular hack saw! That’s right, it is so safe!

When you get home from the market, head down to your local hardware store. Hack saws are about $10 and are very useful in the kitchen. They will cut thru the toughest squash with ease. No lost fingers, no stitches, and more picking up pieces of squash from all over the patio!!

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