What is the difference between a squash and a gourd? Are they edible? Both can be found on your Thanksgiving table, however, there are certainly some differences.
Let’s start off with background and similarities – Squashes and gourds are members of the Cucurbitaceae family. This is a massive plant group containing over 800 species of plants such as gourds, melons, squashes and pumpkins. Botanically they are defined as a fruit. The main distinction between squashes and gourds is that squashes are grown and harvested to eat, while gourds tend to be cultivated for decoration purposes.
Most gourds are the product of the species Lagenaria siceraria (the calabash or African bottle gourd), native to Africa. This species is thought by many to be the oldest plant domesticated by humans.
So what’s the best way to use them? Gourds are great for cool-weather crafts. Think drying gourds to make bowls, bottles, cups, musical instruments, and last but not least birdhouses.
Squash – Time to eat!
Yes, you can eat squash! Fall is the season and weather for hunkering down and enjoying some amazing squash dishes, such as soup, pasta, squash fries and pies. You can stuff, mash or even roast them!
Here is a sampling of some squashes that are easy to prepare:
- Butternut Squash
- Sweet Dumpling Squash
- Spaghetti Squash
- Acorn Squash
Now – go to your local farmers market or grocery store and start enjoying all the things that can be done with squash and gourds!