Squashes are the fruit of vines of the
genus Cucurbita. Squashes are classified as summer squash or
winter squash, depending on when they are harvested.
Summer squashes (such as zucchini (also known as courgette),
pattypan and yellow crookneck) are harvested during the summer,
while the skin is still tender and the fruit relatively small.
They are consumed almost immediately and require little or no
Winter squashes (such as hubbard, acorn or Cucurbita pepo,
spaghetti and pumpkin) are harvested at the end of summer,
generally cured to further harden the skin, and stored in a cool
place for eating later. They generally require longer cooking
time than summer squashes.
Squash is native to North America and was one of the "Three
Sisters" planted by Native Americans. The Three Sisters were the
three main indigenous plants used for agriculture: maize (corn),
beans, and squash. These were usually planted together, with the
cornstalk providing support for the climbing beans, and shade
for the squash. The squash vines provided groundcover to limit
Various types of squash exist throughout the world
with the Chinese bitter melon, Taiwanese okra, Chinese winter melon and
opo squash being very popular in Asia. Tastes can vary from bitter to
sweet depending on type.