Butternut Squash Vs Pumpkin What's The Difference

Butternut Squash vs. Pumpkin – What’s The Difference?

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Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Is it a melon? There is a lot of misconception and misunderstanding when it comes to pumpkin and butternut Squash. Pumpkins are loved by almost everyone in one way or another; some people like the sweet and savory taste, while others use it as a decoration to bring colors to their houses during Halloween. 

Other than the fruit itself, Pumpkin seeds are also popular among chefs. People also use pumpkin seeds to make oil, which has been acclaimed to have many health benefits. According to a survey, The US produced 13.75 million cwt of Pumpkins in 2020 alone, and in 2015 this number was around 17 million cwt of Pumpkins. 

Butternut Squash is a close relative of Pumpkin but with subtle differences. But these two have a lot of commonalities as well, which is why they are often confused with one another. For starters, both Butternut Squash and Pumpkins belong to the same family; they also look alike, with slightly similar tastes. But things like nutritional value, harvesting time, and uses set them apart.

And in this article, we will discuss these differences in detail. So keep on reading to find out all you need to know about butternut squash and Pumpkin!

Squash 

When we talk about squashes, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is “they are vegetables.” But that’s not the case, and the truth is that both Pumpkins and Squashes are fruit, technically speaking. This is because both of them have seeds inside them, which almost all of the fruits have. Another misconception about Pumpkin is that most people believe it to be a gourd (instead of squash) because of its hard outer covering. 

But the reality is that gourd is quite bitter, and you can’t eat it. On the other hand, Pumpkin has a sweet flavor and can be consumed readily. Some people also believe that Pumpkins are melons. And this claim is true because pumpkins are, in fact, Melons, and so is Butternut Squash. Both Pumpkin and Butternut Squash come from the Cucurbitaceae family. The Cucurbitaceae family includes squash, gourd, and melon. 

Differences

There are a lot of subtle differences between Pumpkin and Squash that set them apart, so let’s get into a few of these so you can differentiate a Pumpkin from squash when you see one. 

Leaves

The number one thing people don’t realize about squashes is that their leaves are edible. You can add Squash leaves to your salads and make them much more interesting and nutritious, especially if you have been eating the same old greens your whole life. Both Pumpkin and Butternut Squash leaves have a slightly sweet taste, which most other large leaves lack. 

Butternut Squash leaves are heart-shaped, deep-green, and large. If you plan to eat them anytime soon, remember to pick the younger smaller leaves, as they are softer and easier to consume. Eating them raw might not be the best idea because they are quite rough and require some form of cooking (steaming, stir-frying) to make them more edible. 

Pumpkin Leaves are slightly different from Butternut Squash leaves; they have a fuzzy layer of stringy fibers dangling on their surface. This fuzziness is believed to be why many people in the US avoid eating Pumpkin leaves, while they are popular in different cultures worldwide. In any case, it is perfectly safe to eat them, and if you pick them young, you won’t have to deal with the strings and fuzziness.

You can cook them directly like most of the other Leafy greens. But if you’re eating the older leaves, ensure that you remove as much of the dangling stringy fibers as possible. It might sound like too much work, but it isn’t that hard. 

Nutrition 

Pumpkin and Butternut Squash have a similar nutrition profile, but some nutrients are higher in Pumpkin than in Butternut Squash and vice versa. You can guess this by the way they both look. The first thing that comes to mind when looking at them is their orange color, which indicates high beta-carotene. 

Beta-carotene is a flavonoid that has various health benefits. It acts as an antioxidant and helps in reducing oxidative stress on the body. High Oxidative stress has been liked with faster aging, skin problems, and cardiovascular diseases. Beta-carotene is also converted into retinol when ingested, and this fat-soluble vitamin is essential for good eye and skin health and strengthening the immune system. 

Butternut Squash has a higher content of Beta-Carotene than Pumpkin, and it also has higher Alpha Carotene and Beta-Kryptoxanthin levels. Other higher micro-nutrients in Butternut Squash than Pumpkin include magnesium, potassium, and calcium. The starkest difference between Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Nutrition is the amount of energy each one provides. 

You’d get 45 Kcal from 100 grams of Butternut Squash and 26 Kcals from Pumpkin. At first sight, this looks good in favor of Pumpkin, but Pumpkin is lower in dietary fiber than Butternut squash. There are only 0.5 grams of fiber in 100 grams of Pumpkin, while there is 2g of dietary fiber in Butternut Squash. So, even if Butternut Squash provides more calories, it also provides more fiber, ensuring that the carbohydrates are digested slowly, and you remain full for longer. 

Availability

Pumpkin can mean different things depending on where you use the term. In the US, Pumpkin is a round and large fruit that is craved into different decorations during Halloween. In Australia, Pumpkin can be almost any (winter) squash. 

Pumpkins are seasonal fruits, and almost all of the pumpkins are harvested exclusively in October and September. But you might also find Pumpkins in November because they last for some time. Butternut Squash is harvested in winter, but it is available throughout the year. 

So What’s the Difference Between Butternut Squash and Pumpkin?

  • Pumpkin leaves are fuzzy and have fibrous threads on their surface. Butternut Squash leaves are heart-shaped, deep-green, and large. 
  • Pumpkins are only available in fall or the beginning of winter, while butternut squash is available throughout the year. 
  • Butternut Squash is higher in fiber, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. 

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