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Butternut is a kind of squash that is biologically known as ‘Cucurbita moschata’. Butternut is usually eaten as a winter squash and has pumpkin like taste. Skin of this squash is normally yellow-colored with a sweet orange pulp inside. The flesh and the nutty flavor of the butternut are well-liked in making several butternut recipes across the world. Some of the most commonly served butternut dishes are butternut gratin, butternut soup and butternut curry.

History and Origin of Butternuts

The butternut is believed to have originated in Mexico. Waltham butternut is the most commonly used variety of the butternut squash that has its origin in Stow, Massachusetts. Though the exact time of the origin of butternut is not known ,in America it was used in cooking over 5,000 years ago. It is said that Incas are responsible for the cultivation of this popular squash, in 15th century. Since then people of Central and Southern America are fond of using butternut in their diets.

Culinary Uses of Butternut

Being a winter squash, butternut is highly used in making several exotic as well as daily butternut recipes. The buttery and sweet flesh of butternut is an ideal ingredient for making soups and stews. This nutty flavored squash has displayed its versatility by lending itself to an array of dishes across the globe. The pulp of butternut is widely used to make casseroles and gratins. It can be pureed in order to make variety of breads, cookies and muffins. Grilled butternut is fondly served as a well-liked barbeque side dish. Various butternut dishes can be made by toasting or roasting the butternut flesh. The mashed pulp of butternut is usually spiced with a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon and topped with cream and served with Sunday Roast. The shape of butternuts make them an ideal fruit for stuffing, for instance, spinach and cheese mixture can be stuffed in the deseeded central part of the fruit and wrapped in foil. The stuffed butternut is then kept for grilling. Seeds and skin of butternuts are also edible. Roasted or raw butternut seeds make a nice snack.

Popular Butternut Recipes

• Butternut chickpea and lentil curry- It is a north Indian butternut curry dish that has a delectable flavor. It is also considered as one of the nutritional butternut recipes.

• Butternut cake – This cake is prepared by incorporating the mashed pulp of butternut.

• Butternut squash soup – It is a spicy soup that is an ideal dish for autumn meals.

• Butternut tacos with green salsa – It is one of the commonly served butternut dishes as starter. Tacos are stuffed with roasted butternut and sprinkled with cheese.

• Butternut and barley pilaf – It can either be served as a side dish or as a main dish. In this dish the sweetness of butternut squash is complimented with barley and lemon zest.

Cuisines Commonly Making Butternut Dishes

In the Australian as well as the cuisine of New Zeeland, butternuts are considered as pumpkins and widely used to make butternut recipes. It is included in several recipes along with other ingredients to make appetizing foods such as breads, muffins and pies. Butternut gratin and butternut soups are highly popular butternut recipes in these regions. Butternut also lends itself to numerous American recipes as well. In Mexican cuisine, butternut tacos are fondly eaten with salsa. Butternut cake is one of the most popular American butternut dishes. Butternut stew and other butternut baked items are popularly served in American cuisine. Grilled butternut is a widely admired dish in South Africa. The butternut is also stuffed to make a nice grilled butternut recipe. In Indian cuisine, butternut is use to make curry as well as dry spicy butternut dishes. Preferred

Methods of Making Butternut Recipes

• Grilled – Grilling is the most preferred method of making butternut dishes in South African cuisine.

• Baked – Butternut cakes, breads and muffins are made by baking method. Butternut pies are also prepared with by this method.

• Boiled – Butternut flesh is pureed in order to incorporate in soup dish that is made by boiling.

• Stewed – Butternut is a preferred ingredient for making vegetarian stews.

• Fried – Butternut pieces are also fried to make several butternut recipes.

• Toasted – Toasting of butternut flesh as well as its seeds is widely done to incorporate the flavor of butternut in variety of dishes.

Nutritive Value of Butternut

Butternut squash has the following nutritive values:

• Vitamin A and C are present in abundance in butternut.

• Manganese along with calcium and potassium are some of the nutrients that are found in butternut dishes.

• Omega-3 fatty acids and folate are plentiful in this orange squash.

• Beta-carotene present in butternuts acts as an anti-oxidant and helps in maintaining the cholesterol level in body. Also reduces the risk of heart attacks.

• It also regulates the sugar level in body.

Criteria of Using Butternuts

‘Contact Dermatitis’ is an allergic reaction that is known to be caused by butternut squash. It is a kind of skin allergy that causes roughness and cracks in skin. While cooking or cutting the butternut squash, it is advised to wear gloves in order to avoid reactions with skin.

Buying and Storing of Butternuts

While buying butternut squash always check the weight of the fruit. If it is heavy than it has more moisture content and it is good for buying. The rind of the fruit should have a uniform texture with unbroken skin. Try to push the finger in the rind to check the maturity of the squash. Pushed finger means immature and less sweet fruit. Butternuts as well as other squashes are regarded as fruits with longest shelf life. They can be stored in a cool, dry place for more than 3-4 months. In refrigerator the fruit gets deteriorate very fast but can be stored for at least 2 weeks. Leftover butternut dishes can also be stored in fridge.

Butternut Trivia

• The America’s largest butternut tree was in California that was cut down.