PLETHORA of Winter Squash

Honey Bear Winter Squash     Butterscotch PMR Winter Squash

PLETHORA–noun, a great quantity; especially, more than desirable.  (Now, wait a minute–)  Webster says it comes from a word in the ancient languages that meant ‘to become full.’  (That’s more like it!)

We have a plethora of winter squash, both in the shelter and our cooler for winter sales, and at Bee Healthy.  Why do we do this?  Well, we are into good, fresh, nutritious food locally grown….food that nourishes our bodies and keeps us well.  Winter Squash is just that!  (‘Fresh’ becomes a relative term here…winter squash is high in beta-carotene which our bodies convert to Vitamin A…a good thing to have in the winter.)  At a time when the garden is dead, greens are limited to what is available in the store (not always fresh, nor necessarily healthy for you), and we are eating whatever has been set up for the winter (canned, frozen, dried, pickled), or is shipped from hundreds of miles away, Winter Squash is a power house of nutrition!  (It is as fresh as you’re going to get from the garden this time of year…harvested fully ripe, cured, and then put into a consistent 48 degree cooler or shelter to hold for several months. With the Maximus genus –AKA Hubbard family–it is the curing process that develops the flavor and helps with the long term storage.  We’ve had Blue Hubbard’s hold until the Spring!)

So, how can we fix it?  What do we do with winter squash?  I’m sure you have heard me rave about Butternut Bisque.  You can use about any squash in the Bisque, just as you can use about any squash to make ‘pumpkin’ pie.  (In fact, canned pumpkin pie filling is usually Butternut:  easier to process and more squash meat per pound than pie pumpkins, and in the same family as pumpkin.)  Start with roasting a squash in the oven–that’s probably the most well known and simplest first step.  (I’ll give you more ideas in later posts.)

If you are new to winter squash, Acorn or Butternut is a great beginner squash(We have four varieties:  Honey Bear and Tip Top Acorn Squashes, & Butterscotch and Waltham Butternut Squashes.)  Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and fill the cavity with a tablespoon of oil (olive, butter, or coconut) and an allium (onion, garlic, shallot, leek, chives), salt and pepper to taste.  Bake in the oven, covered with foil or in a covered dish, 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.  Some recipes use 400 degrees–I think that depends on the squash, but haven’t got that down to a fine science yet.  You don’t want to over-cook or it will be dry and hard to choke down.  (And believe me, when it’s dry, you can’t add enough butter!)

When I bake squash, I bake an abundance…plethora.  🙂  The first bake this fall was 2 Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato Squashes (type of heirloom acorn), and 2 Butternuts in the oven.  I steamed a sliced 8# Hidatsa and spooned the filling into a 14 cup bowl that I refrigerated.  A Thelma and half a Butternut were a part of the meal for that day, and the remaining squash halves went into the fridge to reheat for other meals.  (I prepared those squash as directed above, but I wrapped each half in foil and baked them like a potato–I could get more in the oven that way!)  The Hidatsa became 2 different batches of soup–one a blended bisque and the other more of a chunky soup with carrots and onion– and 6 loaves of ‘Butternut’ Bread.  The sweet bread recipe is strong on the pumpkin-pie-like spices–great with a scoop of ice cream on top, especially still warm from the oven!   (Don’t tell The Farmer, but I thought his potato soup was a little thin so I added 1 cup of the 14 cup Hidatsa to thicken his soup–gave it a nice glow, too!)

Well, that’s all for now!  My next post will be about Buttercup–I’m going to try a different recipe and technique for that one–  As always, The Farmer’s Wife

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