Crop Spot: Michigan Squash

Pick a season, any season! Chances are you’ll find fresh Michigan squash at the table. The term “squash” encompasses a group of over 100 varieties of versatile veggies like butternut, zucchini, and pumpkin (learn about some more here!). Indigenous to North America, squash has cultural significance dating back thousands of years as an important diet staple. 

All species of squash belong to the Cucurbita family and are commonly identified by their fleshy skin covered by a thin or thick outer layer. The two unofficial categories of this fiber packed vegetable reflect their peak harvest season: summer and winter. 

Michigan Summer Squash 

  • In Michigan, summer squash season typically lasts from July through September.
  • Summer squash is harvested immature (about 3 or 4 inches diameter), while the rind is still tender.
  • Common varieties of summer squash include yellow squash (straight and crookneck), zucchini, and pattypan squash.
  • Summer squash are yellow, green, striped, and multicolored!
  • Salads, breads, and sautéed sides are excellent uses for summer squash.
  • Zucchini flowers are often harvested for salads, flash frying, or garnishing.

Michigan Winter Squash

  • In Michigan, the bulk of winter squash harvest occurs in September and October. Unlike summer squash, winter squash is left to ripen on the vine until the rind is tough. 
  • Common varieties of winter squash include butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and pumpkin.
  • Winter squash varieties display a diverse array of colors: tan, green, orange, white, red, light blue, and multicolored.
  • Baking, stuffing, and pureeing are a few ways to enjoy your winter squash bounty.

Squash Storage Tips

Freshly picked summer squash may be stored in the crisper with little risk of spoiling for about 2-3 weeks, while winter squash may be stored in a cool, dry location for up to 3 or 4 months. However, if you’re looking to enjoy subtle summer squash flavors year-round, freezing is the best option. 

How to Freeze Summer Squash

  1. Wash your squash!
  2. Dice into 1” cubes or slice into ½” rounds.
  3. Prepare a boiling pot of water and a separate bowl of cold water mixed with ice cubes for the blanching process. Blanching is a heat treatment given to vegetables to preserve texture and flavor during the freezing process. 
  4. To blanch, submerge your cubes or rounds in boiling water for 2 minutes. After the allotted time, drain the boiling water and quickly place squash into the bowl of ice water for 2 minutes to prevent further cooking.
  5. Drain squash, spread out on paper towels, and pat dry. This step helps prevent freezer burn.
  6. Finally, place your squash in a date labeled freezer bag and store for up to 10 months!

Now, let’s eat!

For dinner inspiration, check out these sensational squash recipes:

Find in-season squash in your area by visiting Taste the Local Difference’s ‘Find Local Food & Farms’ directory!

Emily Row is the Copywriting and Marketing Specialist at Taste the Local Difference.

Explore our Crop Spot series here.