During this time of year, The Local Grocer is a squash wonderland!
If you’ve noticed that your farmer friends are adding a little extra muscle this time of year, its is because we are in the heart of squash season and moving 5 to10 pound squash around on a regular basis. Winter Squash is typically harvested at the end of September through early October and, if stored properly, will keep well into winter months. For home gardeners who are harvesting the fruits of their labor be sure to cure your squash for long-term storage. Curing your squash will provide several benefits. By allowing your squash to get rid of excess water, the skin gets harder and more durable, and the sugars concentrate and make your squash that much sweeter. After harvesting your squash on a dry sunny day, place in a cool, dry, well-ventilated spot where temperatures are between 50 and 68 degrees for at least 3 weeks. Be sure to leave a 2-3 inch stem attached to each squash.
Although the perennial favorite squash is butternut mainly due to its sweet but nutty flavor, you will not regret expanding your taste buds by try one of the many other squash that can be found in your local farmers’ market this time of year.
Carnival – a cross between acorn and sweet dumpling squash is as tasty as it is beautiful!
Spaghetti – when you cook this yellow squash, its fibrous insides pull apart as a fun spaghetti substitute.
Hubbard – deep orange flesh often used as a pumpkin replacement in recipes.
Kobocha – Japanese variety that has a delicious chestnut flavor
When perusing stores or markets for squash look for firm fruit with an intact stem and avoid any with cracking or soft spots. A little dirt is okay. Only wash squash right before cooking, using cold water and a vegetable brush, if necessary.
Nothing is more exciting than planning meals with the expanded creativity of some of the fancier or obscure squash. Just about any type of squash can be substituted in most recipes so don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path. Squash can be an attractive addition to many of your favorite weekly meals. Try it in spaghetti sauce, salads, quiche and stuffing. Squash goes great in a fall chili and of served as a baked French fry that will rival sweet potatoes in nutrition and taste. Fall can be an adventure! There are enough varieties that you could try a different squash every week!
Erin Caudell owns and operates the Local Grocer inside the Flint Farmers Market where she sells all natural produce grown at her farm in Beecher, MI. Contact the Local Grocer at firstname.lastname@example.org.