Butternut squash, also known in Australia and New Zealand as butternut pumpkin, and “Batana” in Sri Lanka is a type of winter squash. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. It has yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. It grows on a vine. The most popular variety, the Waltham Butternut, originated in Waltham, Massachusetts, where it was developed at the Waltham Experiment Station by Robert E. Young. Dorothy Leggett claims that the Waltham Butternut squash was developed by her late husband, Charles Leggett, in Stow, Massachusetts, and then subsequently introduced by him to the researchers at the Waltham Field Station.
Although a fruit, butternut squash is used as a vegetable that can be roasted, toasted, puréed for soups, or mashed and used in casseroles, breads, and muffins.
In Australia it is regarded as a pumpkin, and is used interchangeably with other types of pumpkin.
Butternut squash finds common use in South Africa. It is often prepared as soup or grilled whole. Grilled butternut is typically seasoned with spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, or stuffed (e.g. spinach and feta before wrapped in foil and then grilled). The grilled butternut is often served as a side dish to braais (barbecues) and the soup as a starter dish.
It is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. It is also an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin E.
The fruit is prepared by removing the skin, stalk, and seeds, which are not usually eaten or cooked. However, the seeds are edible, either raw or roasted, and the skin is also edible and softens when roasted. One of the most common ways to prepare butternut squash is roasting. To do this, the squash is cut in half lengthwise, lightly brushed with cooking oil, and placed cut side down on a baking sheet. It is then baked for 45 minutes or until it is softened. Once roasted, it can be eaten in a variety of ways as outlined above.