Eating in Season: Winter Squash

I’ve been cooking up all the squash I’ve been accumulating for the last few months. (I ran across a great deal on butternut squash—3 for $1.) I needed the floor space! Winter squash like pumpkins, butternut, and acorn, once field hardened (allowed to dry for a while outside so that their skins become hardened and so resist bruising), can store well for a long time at room temperature with low humidity. Some squash have a longer storage life than others. Pumpkins and butternut squash will keep all winter if their skins are not bruised or broken, while acorn squash must be eaten within a much shorter time or they begin to decay.

The flesh of some squash is finer grained, such as butternut and buttercup, and better for use in pie and casserole recipes. Other squash, such as the spaghetti or acorn squash, have a more fibrous consistency and are best eaten stuffed or with butter and brown sugar right out of their shells.

The easiest way to cook a squash is to bake it, but there are a few things you need to do before you pop it in your oven.

1.       Wash the outer shell of the squash with a brush and a few drops of liquid dish soap and rinse well.

2.       Cut the squash in half right down the middle with a big knife. I have a special tool that I slip over the knife blade that allows me to bear down on the pointy end of the knife safely. Some squash needs to be cracked open with a chisel or an ax—I use this method with big Hubbard squash.

3.       Scoop out the “guts” and seeds. I use an ice cream scoop.

4.       Place cavity downward on a shallow greased pan.

Bake in a medium oven (350°F) for 30 minutes or until a fork pushes easily through the shell and flesh.

Allow the squash to cool and then scoop the cooked flesh out of the shell in chunks and pack into freezer containers or bags.

You can use the cooked squash right away, or it keeps well in the freezer until you need a pick-me-up later in the winter. Squash are rich in beta carotene and are very good for you! Enjoy. Begonia

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