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Delicata Squash: The Super Sweet Winter Squash

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Would you like to grow a squash that tastes as sweet as honey?

Pile of harvested Delicata Winter Squash
Delicata Squash

You may want to grow Delicata squash in your garden this year. It is an heirloom squash from the 1800s that scientists have rediscovered. Sometimes called sweet potato squash, it is famous for its orange, dry, "sweet as honey" taste. 

Delicata squash ripens early. The cylindrical shape of the 8-inch-long fruits makes them easy to stuff with ground meat, grains, nuts, cheese or other vegetables.

Delicata squash gets its name from its thin, delicate skin. The skin is easy to cut, tender and edible―this is rare among winter squashes. The skin has a nutty flavor. 

Roasted delicata squash stuffed with nuts and cheese.
Roasted delicata squash stuffed with nuts and cheese.

Gardeners in the past cherished the flavor of Delicata squash but were frustrated by its susceptibility to diseases. Plant breeders have since developed modern varieties that show greater tolerance to disease as well as enhanced sweetness. ‘Bush Delicata’ from Cornell University tolerates mildew and is a leading variety grown by commercial farmers.

Written by Tom Kalb, NDSU Extension Horticulturist. Photos courtesy of Green Mountain Girls Farm and tracy benjamin