The name we use for these cucurbit vegetables actually has nothing to do with the sport or the verb of “squashing” something squishy.
FAQ: Why is squash called squash?
A: The name comes from the native American Narragansett word “askutasquash”, which means “eaten raw or uncooked”.
No matter how much fun we derive from smushing morsels with our forks or smashing overripe pumpkins with all of our might, the name “squash” has nothing to do with these strange habits. At its origins, the veggie we know today as “winter squash” was neither pulverized or harvested only in winter. Today we harvest five species of Cucurbita which are regarded as squashes, pumpkins, or gourds depending on their use. There are many varieties of each of those species which we use for a great number of things.
Here are some more fun facts about squash:
- It grows on a vine along the ground, and every part of the plant is edible.
- It takes up enormous amounts of nutrients as it grows, so it is traditionally planted with beans, which fix nutrients in the soil. Because squash, beans and corn were often planted together in native cultures, they have been dubbed “The Three Sisters” in legends and lore.
- Squash varieties have been eaten by humans for over 5000 years.
- Early pilgrims did not take to eating squash like the native americans until they struggled to survive in the harsh winter. It became so popular that they would cook apples, sugar and spices inside for pies, and eventually even Washington and Jefferson grew squash in their gardens.