This is not winter squash:One advantage of homeschooling is that faced with too much zucchini, yellow crookneck, patty pan, and kousa squash, you just bring out the butter knives and conduct art class.
Wait to harvest winter squash
I had to share that with you, because I don’t have any pictures of winter squash. We leave winter squash on the vine for as long as possible, because the longer the squash has a chance to mature, the sweeter and more flavorful it will be. A light frost, which is what we expect to have tonight, will help to bring out the sweetness, but if the squash itself actually freezes, it will ruin its ability to keep well in storage.
Butternut squash is best, Purdyville citizens agree
We are partial to butternut squash, and that is the only kind we consistently grow. Last year we grew Hubbard to make our own “pumpkin” pies, and to use in quick breads. Butternut squash puree would work as well, but we never have any left over! (It is said that most if not all canned pumpkin is actually Hubbard squash, but I have never found an authoritative confirmation of this. It works for us, being less watery than pumpkin.)
Butternut squash shopping tips
If you are purchasing butternut squash, get the biggest one you can find. It will have a better flavor, and you can freeze leftover mashed squash to use in the aforementioned baking projects. Avoid any that have a greenish tinge. Also keep in mind that a squash without a stem won’t keep as long.
Our favorite way to eat butternut squash is baked, mashed with butter. No salt. No pepper. No spices. On special occasions we throw marshmallows on top of the heated squash and brown them in the oven. Those of us watching fat intake eat it without butter, and it still tastes pretty darn good. Butternut is just the best winter squash.
Baked Butternut Squash chez Purdyville
Baking squash results in a more intense flavor than boiling it.
11 pounds butternut squash (or as much as you can fit on your 2 biggest baking sheets)
1 cup butter — (2 sticks)
2 10 ounce bags miniature marshmallows — optional
Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Place on two greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until quite soft. When cool enough to handle, remove squash from skins and place in 15×10 pan. Cut up two sticks of butter and mash into warm squash. Return to oven and bake until heated through, up to half an hour.
If desired, marshmallows can be placed on top and browned for 5 minutes.
Butternut Squash Pie
I like this much better than pumpkin pie. From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook (1990), p. 652
1 pastry crust
1 cup pureed or mashed butternut squash
1 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk (even evaporated skim milk works fine)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs — slightly beaten
3 tablespoons brandy — (no brandy? try 1/8 tsp. rum extract, or to taste)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon mace — *see Note
Preheat the oven to 425º. Line a pie pan with the pastry dough. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and beat until smooth and well-blended. Pour into the lined pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300º and bake for 45-60 minutes more until the filling is firm.
Butternut Squash Bread
Originally a pumpkin bread recipe, which we adapted from Fannie Farmer Cookbook, 13th edition, page 539
2 1/4 cups flour — you can use part or all whole wheat pastry flour
3/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3/8 teaspoon allspice
1 1/8 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups butternut squash puree — any kind of winter squash is fine
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs — beaten
3/8 cup water
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the nuts. Sift together the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients (easiest in the food processor).Combine the wet and dry ingredients, but don’t mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts. Pour into a well-buttered 9×5 loaf pan. Bake 60-70 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Wait 10 minutes, and then turn out the bread onto a rack to cool.