Thursday, November 25, 2010


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I have always loved squash. Well, for the sake of honesty -  as a foolish youngster I grew tired of the endless zucchini that thrived in my mother’s garden, but as a more knowledgeable adult I have come to appreciate squash in all her wondrous varieties. It is hard for me to choose a favorite, but two varieties I usually grow in my own garden are Acorn Squash and Butternut Squash.

Both these squashes are of the winter variety and differ from summer squash in that they are harvested when the seeds have matured and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. The hard skin of a winter squash protects the flesh and allows it to be stored longer than summer squash. They can be kept in a cool dark place, like your cellar or pantry, for months. Store on a shelf, or if you are keeping them in a basket or other container, layer newspaper between them so they don’t touch each other. Winter squashes can be baked, steamed or simmered. They are a good source of iron, riboflavin and vitamins A and C.

Acorn squash are known for their sweet golden flesh and unique ribbed shell, which resembles the shape of an acorn. Marie Oster called acorn squash a rock star among super foods in an article she wrote for Yahoo! Green.

Winter Squash
photo from Pixmac

Butternut is an elongated squash with a pear-ish shape and a sweet, nutty taste. It has yellow to orange skin and pulp that becomes a sweet and rich dark orange as the squash ripens. Not only do these two squash taste delicious, they are easy to grow, simple to cook, and last an amazingly long time if properly stored.

Winter Squash can be canned (no pun intended) and acorn and butternut squash are both perfect candidates for the process if you use a pressure cooker. Squashes are low in acid and the process is a bit time consuming, but there really is no need to can them since they can be stored whole without processing in a cool dark pantry or basement for the winter season.


To bake either Acorn or Butternut simply cut in half lengthwise – you will need a heavy-duty chef’s knife because of their thick skin and bulk, remove the seeds and strings with your fingers and a spoon.

Place halves on a cookie sheet or in a baking dish cut side up, put a dollop of butter in each cavity, salt and pepper the fleshy parts, cover each half with tin foil. Place in an oven pre-heated to 400 degrees for about an hour, although it could be more or less depending on the size of the squash.

Test for doneness by piercing with a fork (think baked potato) to make sure they are soft all the way through. Remove and serve.

If you would like to entice the children, or you prefer a bit of extra sweetness yourself, you may replace the salt and pepper with either honey or maple syrup (please use the real thing!) Place a spoonful of either into the cavities with the butter. When the squash are cooked through, drizzle some of the melted goodness over the ends (particularly for the Butternut) before serving. 

Squashes also make delicious soups; the Internet is literally stuffed with recipes. Emeril (Bam!) has a wonderful  Squash Soup recipe, but I think my Mom’s Butternut Soup recipe is the best.



2 large Butternut Squash

4 Tablespoons Butter

2 Onions sliced

4 - 5 apples - mix of tart and sweet


Fresh Nutmeg


Cut Squash in half, remove seed and place face down on a cookie sheet. Bake (@ 400 until soft, cool a little so you can handle.

While squash is cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons butter in stock pot.

Add onions, let simmer while you cut up seed and peel apples, add to the onions in pot. Cook all until tender. Scoop cooked squash from skin and add to mixture. Stir until all is blended and warmed through.

Stir in 2 cups of fresh cider, keep cooking. Salt and pepper to taste.

Put mixture through a Food Mill, or use a food processor to blend soup. If soup is too thick, add cider. If runny, cook down a little.

Add grated fresh nutmeg to taste and serve.

The wonderful thing about this soup recipe is that you can freeze in containers or ziplock baggies for future use. It is certainly one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it too.

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