Acorn squash, Delicata squash, Butternut squash, and more squash! It can be a bit overwhelming with the enormous numbers of winter squash we have gotten from our amazing farmers this season. You may be asking yourself: How do I eat all this squash before they go bad? What delectable recipes are out there? How do I prepare them safely? How long do they keep? Which ones make the best pies? These answers and all other secrets can be found from a few of our leaders in our fresh food loving communities. Fear not, we have you covered!
Al Mortenson, a dedicated volunteer leader from the Smoketown Fresh Stop Market, gives some insight into his experience with winter squash.
Al: I grew up on a farm in Minnesota where we had a huge garden and grew much of our fruit and vegetable supply, eating it fresh in season, and canning or freezing it for the rest of the year.
We grew at least 100 winter squash each year—acorn and buttercup (not butternut). Buttercup squash is very similar to Kabocha (my favorite). We harvested them in early fall, then stored them outside in a cool (but not freezing) place until about the first of December. At that time, we would bake up the rest of the supply, scoop out the cooked pulp and freeze it in plastic containers.
How do you cook your winter squash?
Al: (On the farm) we just prepared it very simply—cut them in half, scooped out seeds and baked them. Then when it was done, we'd scoop out the pulp and put butter, and a little salt and pepper on it. Once in a while, we would put a little brown sugar or maple syrup on it, too. (Or put the brown sugar or maple syrup on it before baking.) I eat a lot of winter squash and still prepare it that way. I usually bake it in the microwave—anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes per half; time varies depending on size of squash. Once in a while if I am making roasted winter vegetables (sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, etc.), I'll put in some cubed winter squash also. At my home, we eat our vegetables prepared very simply. Our philosophy is that if you have good quality, fresh vegetables, the taste is so good that you don't need to "fancy them up.”
Cybil Flora (pictured above), our Parkland Fresh Stop Market check-in leader, said she grew up only eating pumpkin pie, but as she got older, she was glad she ventured into the world of winter squash.
So how long do squash last?
Cybil: Last year there was an abundance of winter squashes towards the end of Fresh Stop Markets - so I went into winter with four Butternut and five or six Spaghetti Squash. They lasted me most of the winter. I looked up how to store them—cool dry location with plenty of ventilation. I also had roasted a lot of butternut and acorn squash and frozen the flesh for later use. I have already started freezing squash for use during the next winter!
Which squash is your favorite?
Cybil: I think my favorite is the Delicata - if you roast it after tossing it in olive oil then it caramelizes up and you can eat not only the flesh but the skin.
What is the safest way to cut up winter squash?
Cybil: I tend not to peel butternut right away because when you peel it then it’s more difficult to handle and that leads to more injuries. I also dry the squash after washing it before starting to use a knife. I have found that knives and wet hands do not mix well.
What you need:
What’s the difference between all of these Fresh Stop Market winter squashes? (From nytimes.com)
Now get to cooking (or storing!) for the winter season!