Butternut squash

Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata), known in Australia and New Zealand as butternut pumpkin or gramma,[1] is a type of winter squash that grows on a vine. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. It has tan-yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp with a compartment of seeds in the blossom end. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. It is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium; and it is a source of vitamin A.

Cucurbita moschata 'Butternut'
Cucurbita moschata Butternut 2012 G2.jpg
Ripe butternut squash
SpeciesCucurbita moschata
Hybrid parentage'Gooseneck squash' × 'Hubbard squash'
BreederCharles Leggett
Origin1940s in Stow, Massachusetts, United States
Butternut squash cut lengthwise showing seeds
Butternut pumpkin (Australian term)

Although botanically a fruit (specifically, a berry), butternut squash is used culinarily as a vegetable that can be roasted, sautéed, toasted, puréed for soups such as squash soup, or mashed to be used in casseroles, breads, muffins, and pies. It is part of the same squash family as ponca, waltham, pumpkin, and calabaza.[2]


The word "squash" comes from the Narragansett word askutasquash, meaning "eaten raw or uncooked". Although Native people may have eaten some forms of squash without cooking, today most squash is eaten cooked. Native Americans believed that it had extreme nutritional properties and would bury their dead with it to sustain them on their final journey.[3]

The late-growing, less symmetrical, odd-shaped, rough or warty kinds, small to medium in size, but with long-keeping qualities and hard rinds, are usually called winter squash.

Butternut squash, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy188 kJ (45 kcal)
11.69 g
Dietary fiber2 g
0.1 g
1 g
Vitamin A equiv.
532 μg
4226 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.1 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.02 mg
Niacin (B3)
1.2 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.4 mg
Vitamin B6
0.154 mg
Folate (B9)
27 μg
Vitamin C
21 mg
Vitamin E
1.44 mg
48 mg
0.7 mg
34 mg
0.202 mg
33 mg
352 mg
0.15 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water86.4 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

Spread from South and Central AmericaEdit

All three species of squashes and pumpkins are native to the Western Hemisphere. C. maxima, represented now by such varieties as Hubbard, Delicious, Marblehead, Boston Marrow, and Turks Turban, apparently originated in northern Argentina near the Andes or certain Andean valleys. At the time of the Spanish invasion, it was found growing in these areas and has never since been found elsewhere except as evidently carried by humans.

Since this plant requires a fair amount of hot weather for best growth, it has not become very well established in northern Europe, the British Isles, or in similar areas with short or cool summers. Only long-vining plants are known in this species.

C. moschata, represented by such varieties as Cushaw and Winter Crookneck Squashes, and Japanese Pie and Large Cheese Pumpkins, is a long-vining plant native to Mexico and Central America. This species and C. pepo apparently originated in the same general area, Mexico and Central America. Both are important food plants of the original people of the region, ranking next to maize and beans. The flowers and the mature seeds, and the flesh of the fruit are eaten in some areas.

Before the arrival of Europeans, C. moschata and C. pepo had been carried over all parts of North America where they could be grown. Still, they had not been carried into South America as had beans, which originated in the same general region. They were generally grown by indigenous people all over what is now the United States. Many of these peoples, particularly in the west, still grow a diversity of hardy squashes and pumpkins not to be found in commercial markets.

Although winter squashes are grown in many regions, they are relatively unimportant, with few exceptions. They are grown extensively in tropical America, Japan, Northern Italy, and certain United States districts. The Calabasas of the West Indies and the forms grown by the people of Mexico and Central America are not uniform, pure varieties but extremely variable in size, shape, and color. Since these species are normally cross-pollinated, it is now difficult to find pure varieties.[citation needed] Butternut squash is a modern variety of winter squash. It was developed by Charles Legget of Stow, Massachusetts, in 1944.[citation needed]


Butternut squash will store for two to three months. Some varieties will keep up to six months. They are best kept at 10 °C (50 °F) with 50 percent humidity.[4] For the best flavor, butternut squash should be left to cure for 2 months after harvest.[5]


Butternut squash growing in a garden in Oklahoma

Raw butternut squash is 86% water, 12% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and contains negligible fat (table). A 100-gram reference amount supplies 188 kilojoules (45 kilocalories) of food energy, is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin A (67% DV) and vitamin C (25% DV), and contains moderate amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese, each having content of 10–12% DV.

Culinary usesEdit

One of the most common ways to prepare butternut squash is roasting. Once roasted, it can be eaten in a variety of ways.[6] The fruit is prepared by removing the skin, stalk, and seeds, which are not usually eaten or cooked.[7] However, the seeds are edible, either raw or roasted, and the skin is also edible and softens when roasted. The seeds can even be roasted and pressed into an oil to create butternut squash seed oil. This oil can be used for roasting, cooking, on popcorn, or as a salad dressing. [8]

In Australia, it is regarded as a pumpkin, and is used interchangeably with other types of pumpkin.[9]

In South Africa, butternut squash is commonly used and often prepared as a soup or grilled whole. Grilled butternut is typically seasoned with nutmeg and cinnamon or stuffed (e.g., spinach and feta) before being wrapped in foil and grilled. Grilled butternut is often served as a side dish to braais (barbecues) and the soup as a starter dish.

Butternuts were introduced commercially in New Zealand in the 1950s by brothers Arthur and David Harrison, nursery workers, and Otaki market gardeners.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Commercial production of pumpkins and grammas". Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Archived from the original on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  2. ^ GourmetSleuth. "Butternut Squash". Gourmet Sleuth. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  3. ^ "The History of Butternut Squash". Our Everyday Life. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  4. ^ Munro, Derek B.; Small, Ernest (1997). Vegetables of Canada. NRC Research Press. p. 179. ISBN 9780660195032. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Curing & Storage Chart for Winter Squash | Johnny's Selected Seeds". www.johnnyseeds.com. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  6. ^ Randhawa, Jessica (3 September 2018). "Butternut Squash". The Forked Spoon. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  7. ^ "Butternut Squash". Veg Box Recipes. 2008. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
  8. ^ Bilow, Rochelle. "Butternut Squash Seed Oil Is Exactly What Your Pantry Has Been Missing". Bon Appétit. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  9. ^ "The strange history of the butternut". Farmer's Weekly (in en-ZA). 21 September 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)