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I am not even sure what the difference between squash and pumpkin is - the botanists seem to not recognize it at all, and cooking sources on the Internet are contradictory. I tend to not pay attention and use whatever is available for any recipe which calls for pumpkin (I don't think I've ever tried recipes which specify squash). But recently, I had a talk in chat where derobert suggested that squash may not function in all situation.

When can I continue using squash instead of pumpkin, and when should I expect a difference? And what would the difference be, just a change in taste, or the dish failing completely?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I agree that, in general, other squashes can be substituted for pumpkin. I have tried some different types of squashes but obviously there are many more that I haven't tried.

There are definitely differences in flavor- these will obviously change a dish but not ruin it.

The biggest differences I have run into are water content and texture.

When roasting squash the cooking time might need to be adjusted to obtain a product with the needed consistency. Using pie as an example- I have had to adjust my cooking to avoid a runny pie filling. Obviously in some recipes, such as soup, this won't be as important.

Some squash, such as spaghetti, have stringy textures that would be odd where smooth pumpkin is expected.

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Well, the particular thing I was thinking of in chat is that when you roast a pie/sugar pumpkin, the skin/rind/shell (after you scoop the flesh out) is non-flexible and fairly sturdy. It can be used for a bowl, for example. If you were to substitute an acorn squash, you'd find that the shell after roasting can't even support its own weight.

Trying to make a pumpkin pie with a different squash may well drive you mad, due to differences in water content after roasting (of course, with enough drying in the oven, it can be done). Texture may vary (some a stringy, and will need running through the food processor or blender). Taste, of course, is different (but normally similar enough to work).

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Wife has made 'pumpkin' pie from butternut squash for years. Only difference is the pies taste better than those made from canned 'pumpkin', which is often also made of squash: slashfood.com/2005/10/24/canned-pumpkin-is-it-really-pumpkin No madness is involved, but you do have to take water content into account. –  Wayfaring Stranger Feb 6 '12 at 18:56
    
Yes, butternut definitely work—all squash probably do, once you adjust for water content. But if you don't manage to adjust for it, you get things like the pie being runny... –  derobert Feb 6 '12 at 18:58
    
@WayfaringStranger My Mom's done the same with several different varieties of orange squash before; no one who didn't have reason to suspect she was up to something ever called her for it. The taste wasn't quite the same as her normal pumpkin pie recipe but was still within the 'normal' range of flavor. –  Dan Neely Feb 6 '12 at 21:34

I have JUST baked small squash breads that the actual recipe called for 1 cup of pumpkin. This squash was a Sweet Mama that had been previously cooked. I baked it in a 4 clay baker dish for 45 minutes. WOW!! What a treat!! PERFECT!! Squash has a more distinctive flavor than pumpkin and so this recipe is my favorite.

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Hi and welcome to Seasoned Advice. Unfortunately this doesn't really answer the question. Please take a moment to review our faq at cooking.stackexchange.com/faq to get an idea of what kind of information we're looking for here. –  KatieK Nov 2 '12 at 21:46
    
Also... pumpkin is a squash. –  lemontwist Nov 2 '12 at 21:54

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