In 2009, plant breeder and Cornell professor Michael Mazourek was challenged to create a better, tastier version of the butternut squash—and just a few years later, he debuted the honeynut squash, a new, distinct cultivar.
The caramel-colored honeynut squash looks similar to a butternut, with one major difference: It’s tiny, standing a modest 6 inches tall. But don’t let its diminutive size fool you. Because the honeynut contains significantly less moisture than the butternut, it has a more concentrated earthy sweetness and a denser texture than its larger counterpart.
This difference became evident when we tried the two side by side in the kitchen: Honeynut squash formed a thicker, denser puree than butternut did and roasted more deeply and evenly, resulting in slices with well-browned exteriors and rich,creamy interiors. In both cases, the flavors of the two squashes were similar, but the flavors were notably more intense and focused in the honeynut samples.
Ready to seek out this squash for yourself? Here’s everything you need to know about shopping for, storing, and cooking honeynut squash.
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Shopping for Honeynut Squash
Honeynut squash is available in many grocery stores and farmer’s markets across the country. The squash changes from zucchini-green to orange when it’s ripe, so for the sweetest flavor, look for specimens that have very little or no green. The squash should be smooth, with no wrinkles.
Storing Honeynut Squash
Because honeynut squash has thinner skin than butternut, it doesn’t hold as well. Store it in a dark place at room temperature and cook the squash within a week or two of purchasing it.
A Honeynut Squash Recipe
When roasted, honeynut browns more quickly, deeply, and evenly than butternut squash. Here’s a simple way to roast honeynut squash.
1. Halve and seed squash (no need to peel it).
2. Slice squash into ½-inch wedges.
3. Toss wedges with oil, salt, and pepper.
4. Roast squash on a baking sheet on the lowest rack of a 425-degree oven for about 30 minutes, rotating the sheet and flipping the squash halfway through roasting.