The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat squash. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What squash etiquette is

Squash etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat squash. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve squash to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat squash at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

serving squash

What you should know about squash

Squash is a type of fruit that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes other plants like cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and are often categorized as either summer squash or winter squash, depending on their maturity and the season they’re typically harvested.

Summer squash varieties, such as zucchini and yellow squash, are generally smaller and more tender, with thin edible skin and mild, delicate flavor. They may be green or yellow in color and have a softer, more watery texture. Winter squash varieties, such as butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, are larger and firmer, with thicker, tougher skin and sweeter, dense flesh. They come in a range of colors, from bright orange to pale yellow to dark green.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat squash

1) How to store squash

Squash should be stored in a cool, dry place, ideally at around 50-60°F (10-15°C). They can be stored in a pantry or root cellar, as long as they’re kept away from moisture and direct sunlight. Summer squash can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, while winter squash can last for several weeks to a few months, depending on the variety. If you have extra squash that you won’t be able to use before it goes bad, you can also freeze it for later use.

Sliced or cooked squash can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

2) How to clean squash

To clean squash, simply rinse it under cold water and scrub off any dirt or debris with a vegetable brush. There aren’t any significant risks associated with cleaning squash, but you should always wash your hands and cutting board after handling raw squash to avoid cross-contamination.

Signs that squash has turned bad include soft spots, mold, or a foul odor. If you’re unsure whether your squash is still good, you can cut it open and check the flesh for any signs of spoilage.

3) How to prepare & cook squash

Squash can be eaten raw or cooked, depending on the variety and personal preference. Some common ways to cook squash include roasting, grilling, sautéing, steaming, or baking. You can also add squash to soups, stews, casseroles, and other dishes.

Some popular dishes that feature squash include butternut squash soup, zucchini fritters, spaghetti squash with tomato sauce, roasted acorn squash, and pumpkin pie.

Squash can be a great addition to salads and sandwiches, either raw or cooked. You can also use them to make juice, smoothies, jams, and preserves.

4) How to serve & present squash

Squash is appropriate for a variety of settings and courses, from casual meals to formal events. You can serve squash as a side dish, main course, appetizer, or even dessert, depending on the preparation.

You can serve squash on a plate or in a bowl, depending on the dish and presentation. A simple, rustic-style dish might be served in a cast iron skillet or baking dish, while a more formal presentation might involve a decorative plate or bowl. A sharp chef’s knife or vegetable peeler can be used to cut and prepare squash. Present squash with serving utensils, such as tongs or a slotted spoon.

You can accompany squash with a variety of seasonings and ingredients. Herbs such as thyme, sage, and rosemary. Spices like cinnamon, cumin, and paprika. Condiments like honey, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar.

5) Food and wine to pair squash with

Squash pairs well with flavors that are sweet, savory, and spicy. Some good vegetables to pair with squash include broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans. Fruits that pair well with squash include apples, pears, and cranberries. It is best to avoid pairing squash with strong-tasting vegetables like onions or garlic, and fruits that are too acidic, like citrus fruits.

Squash can pair well with certain cheeses and dairy products. Some good cheese pairings include goat cheese, feta, and parmesan. It is best to avoid pairing squash with overly pungent cheeses like blue cheese. Creamy dairy products like sour cream or cream cheese can also complement squash.

Squash pairs well with a variety of meats, including chicken, pork, and beef. It also goes well with fish, such as salmon or tilapia. It is best to avoid pairing squash with heavily spiced or seasoned meats, as they can overpower the delicate flavor of the squash.

Squash pairs well with a variety of wines and beverages. For red wine, try Pinot Noir or Merlot. For white wine, try a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc. Rosé wine and sparkling wine can also be good choices. Beer and spirits can also pair well with squash dishes.

6) How to eat squash

The most polite etiquette for eating squash is to use a fork and knife to cut and eat the squash. It is not polite to eat with your fingers unless it is a finger food dish, like squash fritters. The seeds and fibrous center of the squash should be discarded, while the flesh of the squash is eaten.

Squash etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common squash etiquette mistakes:

  • 8/10. Not properly cleaning the squash.
  • 6/10. Serving undercooked or overcooked squash.
  • 4/10. Not properly seasoning the dish.

Additional information for properly serving squash

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly planning a menu.

The number of calories in squash can vary depending on the type and preparation method. A single serving of squash (1 cup of diced squash) contains around 50 calories, while 100 grams of squash contain around 16 calories.

How to buy the best squash

A crucial factor in squash etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Squash is available year-round, but the best season to buy squash is in the fall, when it is at peak season.

Choose the best

Squash can be found fresh in grocery stores and farmers’ markets. It can also be found canned or frozen in the freezer section.

Some of the most popular varieties of squash include butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and delicata squash. Butternut squash is often considered the most prized variety of squash due to its sweet, nutty flavor and versatility in cooking.

When buying squash, look for squash that is heavy for its size and free from bruises or soft spots. The skin should be firm and free from blemishes or discoloration. If buying pre-cut squash, make sure it is fresh and not slimy or wilted.

Alternatives to squash

Some common alternatives to squash include sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, and zucchini.

Resources

  • Nutritional and Genetically Studies on Some Squash Varieties: researchgate.net