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Winter Squashes: What are their flavor profiles and uses?

 
pollinator
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Seeing this thread earlier today got me to thinkin'.  Every year my mom buys a few decorative pumpkins and squashes for her outside displays (I eat the heirloom ones if they don't rot so it's not a total waste).  This year she got one of those big jack o'lantern types (tall, thin pronounced ribs, dark/ burnt orange color, ~30lbs); my dad smashed it open for the deer a few days ago and inside the flesh was really stringy.  The strands were thicker than a spaghetti squash, more like linguine.   I don't know if it's a characteristic of the variety or if the texture was a result of a few freeze-thaw cycles.  I'm wondering if anyone's tried eating these kinds of stringy pumpkins like spaghetti squash and how they taste/ hold up to cooking.  
 
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Delicata will keep for a couple months under ideal conditions. Cool and not high humidity.
 
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Jerry McIntire wrote:Delicata will keep for a couple months under ideal conditions. Cool and not high humidity.



Thanks!
 
pollinator
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What a divine thread. I'm grateful to have received mention of it in the Daily-ish today!

 
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Jerry McIntire wrote:... when delicata are fresh, their soft skin makes them easy to eat as a squash pancake.


I don't understand why anyone would consider Delicata to be anything but tasty. I wouldn't call the skin (rind) delicious, but it's pleasant enough and makes eating sauteed or baked rings easy and a sweet treat. A friend we introduced to Delicata rings said it was like dessert.

Although I haven't tried it yet, this being my first year growing Delicata, I've read that sun-cured ones can be stored for at least three months.
 
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Got this in today’s daily

I read through a lot of the posts (can’t believe I did not find this earlier!).

I am squash crazy - summer, winter, and in between.
I end up with so many that I’m always trying new ways to preserve them with an eye to how I will use them.
Here are a couple of things I’ve been doing this year:

Dehydrating:
Zucchini and banana:
Slice medium with a mandolin. Too thin and they are hard to remove from the wire racks, too thick and they take forever. 130 degrees for however long it takes. Remove promptly to glass jars with good lids and store in a dark place. These sweeten up quite a bit in the dehydrator.
I use the dried rounds: by tearing  them up with my fingers add add them to my granola. I make big batches, so a lot of those squash get used there, by throwing a handful into other things I’m cooking (think: scrambled eggs, oatmeal, cookies, any meat dish that has a little cooking liquid, etc, soaking in a tiny bit of water to soften, then cover with good parmesan, shredded, and bake until crispy, run some through the spice grinder to help thicken things (I do this a lot for making  taco seasoning) ….

Canning: (I pressure can the squash, even when I add vinegar)
I cut big chunks or spears. I can them plain (in water), for a quick veg side dish.  This year I had such a glut I also canned some using  pickling liquid leftover from making bread and butter pickles and pickled beets. I haven’t opened any of these yet, but I suspect the bread and butter liquid will be a better fit.

Freezing: for the banana squash that get out of hand (2+ feet long, 2 arms to carry, hugged to chest), i bake the whole  thing in the oven until very mushy, then let cool. Using my clean hands i pull out the seeds and membranes, then the flesh which I freeze in 2 cup portions. I have about 50 # in the freezer and expect to use it all. Soup, desert stuff, bread, casseroles, you name it.  Btw, it is not recommended to can the mashed flesh - its too hard to ensure there are no air bubbles.  I use it for both sweet and savory recipes. For example, I tried a recipe this year that had me peeling and cubing hard squash which was a chore. The result was delicious. But you know  what ? The squash was mushy (in a good way) that I intend to use my already baked frozen squash in future.  I do not like peeling and chopping raw squash (summer squash is exempted from this proclamation).

Squashes that are in the middle (not summer squash, but aren’t real long keepers)
i harden them off and use them first. Some (like delicious lakota) I dehydrate. Slices need to be fairly thin or it can take days the dehydrate and I do not have a solar dehydrator.  I slice them with a mandoline. Sometimes I peel them, sometimes not. Depends on the skin. If the slicing (both to open the squash and the mandoline part) is difficult I put it in the microwave for a few minutes at a time or in a low oven until they slice nicely. I would not cook it all the way through because I think it would be too hard to handle getting it from squash to rack. I also would not pre-cook in any way that would add moisture (steaming, etc). If its really hard I will cook it just enough to get it open, then scoop out the seeds and stuff, then if its still too hard to easily glide through the mandoline, I cook it again.  Having opened it and removing some wet stuff gives it a little head start on dehydrating, ar at least doesn’t add to it as steaming it or baking it longer whole might do.

As for the squash that keeps well, don’t forget  to harden it off after picking and before storing, not touching . And don’t forget to turn them  over once in a while  (ask me how I know).

Ok - here I go with another missive. I will stop there.

But one more thing — even some of the better keepers will end up in the dehydrator, jar, or freezer sometime in the winter when I have had a break from preserving and run out of my handy pre-processed stock.

Oh, and a question:
Has anyone fermented squash? Any successes to share?




 
pollinator
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L Anderson wrote:

Oh, and a question:
Has anyone fermented squash? Any successes to share?






I've made wine from butternut squash, plus a little brown sugar. It worked out well, and is still considered my best wine ever.
 
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I want to resurrect this thread since I've got some large winter squash suddenly getting little brown spots so we need to use them up soon.

In fall 2020 I wiped the squash down with vinegar (commercial white vinegar) before storing in the back corridor, which stays a couple degrees above freezing for most of Dec-Jan-Feb. That year, they lasted in perfect condition, some till April. Fall 2021 I failed to wipe them with vinegar, but for the first time I "cured" them in a sunny hot window for several days after harvest in October. And this was the batch that in late winter started to get blemishes and rot.

Here's my list of usages. I use the word "pumpkin" for all winter squash, in line with usage in the country I live in.

• The basic method is simply cut, oiled and roasted in the oven. Rolled in herbs or spices or not. It gets very sweet if left till it starts to caramelize, several minutes beyond just getting fork-soft. If I have to cut a big one, I try to roast all of it in big wedges and then scrape flesh off skin, and freeze or refrigerate until making any of the below.
Pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin soup: pre-roasted squash, garlic, chicken broth, pureed. Any spice you like.
Pasta sauce. Like pumpkin soup, but add cheese. Can use milk or yogurt instead of broth.
• In sambar. South Indian dal with chunks of vegetables in. Pumpkin can be boiled straight into it raw.
• Pumpkin curry. There are lots of recipes. I've done a simple one using "sabzi ka masala."
• As gravy in a spicy meat curry. Raw pumpkin seems to have a tenderizing effect, less than papaya but still there.

Here are the ones I haven't tried yet but have been collecting recipes:
• An Indian keema (ground meat) and pumpkin recipe looks good.
• Thai style curry with coconut milk and red curry paste. But might end up too sweet, I dunno.
• Roasted squash salad.
• Pumpkin hummus. Roasted squash instead of chickpeas.
• Many people recommend pumpkin risotto.
• Gratin: cooked in a creamy sauce, then baked with cheese on top.
• Pumpkin chips – either just dehydrated, or deep fried.
• Dried: Pumpkin-pie-spiced leather roll-ups.
• Egyptian macerated pumpkin with sweet bechamel, sounds great but lotsa sugar.

Immature winter squash that had to be harvested due to impending frost turned out to be very nice. I used them like zucchini but they were sweeter, and the flesh had a lovely yellow color. Of course they could not be stored for long.
2021-10-07-squash-curing.jpg
South-facing window, very hot in October
South-facing window, very hot in October
2021-10-25-squash-in-storage.jpg
Stored in cold corridor, 2 - 4˚C for Dec-Jan-Feb (30s F)
Stored in cold corridor, 2 - 4˚C for Dec-Jan-Feb (30s F)
2022-02-10-stored-squash-getting-spots-in-Feb.jpg
Stored squash started getting blemishes in late winter. Urgently have to use them up
Stored squash started getting blemishes in late winter. Urgently have to use them up
 
Rebecca Norman
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Pumpkin Pie from scratch
I had trouble finding a pumpkin pie recipe that didn't call for industrial products like canned pumpkin and "evaporated milk," and eventually did the following. It worked great, and several friends who had never had pumpkin pie before loved it.

I use Lofthouse Maximas, which are very sweet, especially if baked. These are 4 to 7 kg. I cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, cut them in a few large pieces, arrange on oiled trays, and bake for a long time. After they are soft to the fork, I find they get much sweeter if left to bake for another 15 to 30 minutes, till browned corners start to happen. This recipe doesn't make much of a dent in a large squash, though.

2 cups roasted squash/pumpkin.
1.5 cups milk and cream, mixed. (You can choose the ratio).
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar (or less if you prefer. Brown sugar if possible but white works fine)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground or 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
(I omitted ground cloves because I don't like clove but you can use 1/4 tsp if you like it)
1/2 tsp salt

1) Prepare a pie crust shell, ready to fill and bake. Can be a 9-inch pie pan, or an 8-inch pan plus a small extra baking dish.

2) Preheat oven to 350 F or a little higher.

3) I used a strong blender (Indian "mixie") and the result was smooth and lovely. Put the eggs, milk/cream, sugar, spices and salt in the blender and whiz till smooth. Then add the roasted squash (***already cooled or the blender can spurt!***) and whiz for a long time, until it's smooth with few or no lumps. Depending on the size of the blender jar you may have to do this in two parts.

4) Pour the mix into the pie shell and put it in the preheated 350 F oven. (Putting extra pie crust shapes on top doesn't work very well because the filling is so liquid that they float off center.)

5) Bake about 40 minutes, until a knife inserted near the middle comes out clean. Or, after the whole thing starts bubbling, keep it in about 15 minutes longer.
2021-11-25-pumpkin-pie.jpg
Pumpkin pie from scratch. The Yankee as well as non-American guests loved it.
Pumpkin pie from scratch. The Yankee as well as non-American guests loved it.
 
Jerry McIntire
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Kevin Carson wrote:Cool! Will they keep for a while through the winter with the soft skins, or so you have to use them up right after harvest?


They will keep for a month or more if they are in a cool, dry place but they do not store as well as winter squash do.
 
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