Herbal Momma's School of Domestic Arts
Herbal Momma, aka, Kristine Farley loves everything herbal, but has an infinity for all domestic and home arts.
This blog is a journal of family and domestic art activities that will be published in her forthcoming book,
Herbal Momma's School of Domestic Arts.

October 23, 2009

Pumpkins and Winter Squash, Yummy Recipes Included!


I love pumpkin and winter squash.  They are so good to eat, versatile and great keepers through the winter. In this article I will share what we grew and why, when to harvest, preparation for storage and yummy recipes that will delight your family with these wonderful and nutritious food.

This year we grew Butternut Squash and Sugar Pie Pumpkins.  Like everything else in the garden it has to be edible or have a good purpose, that's why we only grow the pumpkins that tastes good.  The members of the squash family, the genus Cucurbita, can easily inter-breed or hybrid unless you different species.  The reason to grow different species is to have "true" seed to save from year to year.


The following are the different species in the Curcurbita family and some information on each that we grew:
Small Sugar Pumpkin, - Harvested over 50 mature, delicious taste, dark flesh
and creamy texture.
Butternut Squash, C. moschata - Yield 28 mature, some cracked due to dry
conditions, than lots of rain.
Green Hubbard, C. maxima - These did not grow very small weak plant, no 
fruit.  Dissapointment.

After a good frost or two and when the folilage of the plant starts to wane, is the time to harvest all fully mature pumpkins and winter squashes.  To pick, twist instead of pulling, and try to keep the stem intact.  As you can see some of our squash has cracked open and sealed while growing.  This is due to dry conditions, followed by lots of rain.


We left the pumpkins and squash in wheelbarrows for a week or so to harden the skins.  Then wiped off the dried mud and washed them in a mild bleach water.  This slows down spoilage.  While I am washing them and placing on a towel they are sorted into 3 grades.  They are dried and placed into cardboard boxes and placed into a cool pantry that doesn't freeze.  Be sure and put boxes on boards off of cement floors for best storage.                                                (#2)
                                                                   


#1 - perfect with no blemishes.  Long term storage.       

#2 - Blemishes are sealed.  Place in storage,  but use first.

#3 - Cook immediately and enjoy. These may have cracks, scrapes or the stem came off.  Any blemish will be cut off before cooking.

(#3)   




From this point on both pumpkin and winter squash
will be refered to as "squash".




Cooking - Pumpkin or Winter Squash may be baked or roasted, steamed or boiled or even microwaves.  But I only like it baked or roasted because it concentrates the rich flavor.

Baking - Wash and stab at least 3 piercing in each. Place into baking pan. Bake at 350' till fork tender. This could be 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the size or the amount of squashes in the pan. I like to cook at least 3 at a time to save energy and have some in the refrigerator for multiple uses. Cool and cut open. Remove seeds and scoop out flesh. Place in storage container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Or freeze for later use.

Roasting – Wash and slice squash 3/4” thick, removing seed and any internal stringiness. Place in greased baking sheet. Add additional sliced vegetables as desired (beets, onions, potatoes, leeks, yams, etc.) Sprinkle with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and garlic according to taste. Bake at 425’, stirring occasionally, until fork tender.

Winter Squash (Pumpkin) Simple Side Dish
Immediately after baking, scoop flesh out into a serving bowl. Add a little butter, sea salt. Stir together and serve. This is wonderful with meatloaf, roast chicken or most main dishes.

Butternut (Pumpkin) Soup    Serves 6 to 8
This is so creamy and delicious. A great side or main dish and easy to make.
Ingredients
1 large onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried sage
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups cooked squash
1 cup cream, half n half or milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish (optional)
20 fresh sage leaves
1 small onion, sliced
½ cup olive oil
Sour cream
   In a large Dutch oven; sauté onion, apple and sage in olive oil, until onions and apples start to caramelize. Place into food processor or blender to puree, adding some broth as necessary to blend smooth. Pour back into Dutch oven. Puree the cooked squash with remaining broth. Pour into Dutch oven also. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until hot. Add cream and season with salt and pepper.
    While soup is heating prepare garnishes. Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan. In small batches fry fresh sage leaves and onion until crisp and lightly browned. Drain on paper towel. To serve, float 2 or 3 sage leaves and some onion on top of soup. Top with a small spoonful of sour cream. Serve immediately.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
My sister-in-law once made a pumpkin soup for us. Though it was unusual, it is the perfect compliment to the mildly spicy flavors of the soup. Sautéing the spices with the onion and garlic bring out the essential oils and flavor. We serve this in bowl and everyone put in his or her own crushed tortilla chips and cheddar cheese. Along with a green salad this makes a great meal.
This makes a huge batch and obviously can be cut in half or quartered. All of the ingredients can be adjusted to what you have on hand and what your family likes. I cook with a little of this, some of that. So just have fun and enjoy this recipe. You can freeze extra or pressure can it in quarts at 10 pounds pressure for 90 minutes. This made all the soup our family could eat for two meals and 14 quarts for the pantry. It freezes well, also.
10 lbs thighs 1 ½ to 2 gallons water
Cook over a medium heat until the meat falls from the bone. Then remove the chicken and set aside to cool. Season broth as desired.
Sauté in a little oil until soft and flavorful:
4 large onions, chopped
1 head of garlic cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
Add:
Chicken broth seasoning to taste
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
4 cups chopped pumpkin or winter squash
1- #10 can diced tomatoes and juice or 4 quart roasted or home-canned tomtoes
3 green peppers, chopped
3 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped (optional)
Cook until all vegetables are tender.
Add:
2 large bunched cilantro, chopped
4 cups fresh or frozen corn
4 cups cooked kidney or black beans
Heat thoroughly over medium heat and adjust seasonings.

You Decide ~ Pumpkin Muffins, Bread or Cake
This recipe is so versatile, easy and delicious. It tastes even better the next day, but no one will want to wait. We triple and quadruple this recipe, then freeze extras or use them as gifts.
Makes 12 muffins, 2- medium loaves or a 9X13” cake.
Ingredients
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1-cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1-teaspoon baking soda
1-teaspoon cinnamon and ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves and nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
¾ cup yogurt, buttermilk, or kefir
1-½ cups cooked squash or pumpkin
½ cup oil or melted butter
1-cup raisins and or chocolate chips (optional0
½ cup walnuts, chopped
In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients together. Add egg, yogurt, squash, and oil and stir thoroughly. Add raisins, chocolate chips and walnuts. Place into paper lined muffin tins or greased loaf or 9X13” pan. Bake at 400’ for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

~Now you can see that along with the nutritional benefits; Alpha-carotene, Beta-carotene, Fiber, Vitamins C and E, Potassium, Magnesium, Pantothenic acid that Pumpkin and Winter Squash is a fabulous food, easy to grow in most climates and a wonderful addition to your family's diet.

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