Oh Squash It
One of our favourite harvests is winter squash with its many varieties of colours, flavours, shapes and sizes. Butternut, acorn, hubbard, delicata, kobacha, sweet dumpling, turban, spaghetti and butternut varieties tend to be the most commonly available. However there are literally hundreds of different varieties of winter squash out there in the world to experience. With all that variety is hard to get tired of using them for making some really good food recipes.
Sadly, winter squash vines can reach 20' in length, and therefore most backyard gardens cannot host the plants. Savvy gardeners will try growing squash up an angled trellis along a building, wall or fence. The benefit here, besides space saving, is that the vines are off the ground and this reduces issues with mildew and other diseases. The vines, when grown on a trellis, will shade the building or window, deck or front driveway - relieving the residents from the onslaught of summer heat.
Most farmers markets will offer a wide array of varieties to choose from. When choosing any winter squash from a farmer's stand, test the skin with your thumbnail. It should feel hard, solid and nearly impenetrable. The vine end should be dry and shriveled; the small bit of vine will often fall off as the squash ripens more in storage. The base end, likewise, should feel very dry. Choosing squash that have been fully ripened and properly cured ensures your squash will keep well into the winter. An additional benefit from fully mature squash is that their seeds will be plump and ready to roast and serve as a snack.
Squash that is not fully ripened will not store well over the winter - the ends will begin to shrivel and soften and then the stinky rot will set in. However, when you are in the possession of an unripe winter squash, you can still use it in the kitchen and turn it into another delicious, super easy dish.
Simply cut in half (or quarters) and scoop out the seeds (don’t bother saving unripe seeds for snacks, there’s no meat in them). Then cut it into 1.5 " thick slices.
In a small bowl, mix a little garlic (mashed or dry powder), salt and oil together. Brush this mixture, coating both sides of each slice. Place on a baking sheet and grill for 3-8 minutes per side, or until the flesh is tender. This makes a great side dish for virtually any meal you are serving.
Alternatively, fill the oven with as many unripe squash as you can fit in there (to make better use of the heat) and once cooled, store in 1 c. containers. Place 1/4 c. of the mashed fruit with some hot water in the dog's dish and watch the puppy-joy begin! :)
There are many ways to utilize an abundant harvest of squash. Our cookbook, From One Small Garden
, has numerous recipes to use ripe winter squash and their seeds.
* About the authors: Lillian and her husband Dave are the team behind Brummet Media Group
, high-fiving cheerfully as they pass each other on the way from checking off one item or other from their long to-do list. Their business includes Dave’s music studio and percussion accessory products and graphic design work as well as numerous award-winning non-fiction books and popular blogs. Today we help them celebrate their latest book release - From One Small Garden
, with over 300 delicious, nutritious recipes! Learn more via their Amazon Author page: https://amazon.com/author/lillianbrummet