What to do with last year’s winter squash
I had a half bushel bucket of Delicata winter squash in the kitchen still and it was already March. The previously green stripes had turned orange, but the squash seemed firm. I decided to cut one open and see what it looked like. It looked like fresh, raw squash, so I decided to bake it.
How to store winter squash
I had followed the storage recommendations from the book Root Cellaring, keeping the winter squash dry and in the normal house temperatures. I was careful not to break off the stems, having cut them about an inch from the squash. I did not wash it, but just brushed excess dirt off, and placed the whole bucketful under the kitchen counter. The exact location was also within a few feet of the wood stove, so it was definitely cozy sometimes. It stayed in that location from the time I harvested it in the late fall until now, March 4.
How to bake winter squash
Two half sheet pans were covered with several now washed Delicata squash, including the one I had cut in half. I poked some holes in them with a sharp knife and put them to bake at 350°F for about an hour. I meant to check them sooner, but forgot, so they were extremely soft when I took them out. I set them to cool for a several hours, because I had other things to do.
How to get the edible part out
To get at the edible, or meat, portion of the squash, I cut them in half lengthwise. It helped to prick the peel with the knife, then proceed with the cut, to keep from just mashing the whole thing flat. Sometimes I cut off the stem end first.
Removing the pulp and seeds was probably more challenging due to the squash being so soft, but I gingerly scooped them out with a spoon. Then, I sliced out the meat of the squash with similar care, avoiding the coarser portions right next to the peel.
Fortunately, I ended up with about 8 cups of squash, because that is what I wanted to make some soup. The recipe was one I had used in the fall for making pumpkin soup. I had thought I would have some leftover Delicata to make cookies, but there was not as much edible squash in each one as I thought. While making soup out of them was rather labor intensive compared to a pumpkin, I did learn that they are basically an individual serving size, which will make it easier for me to know how to use them for dinners in the future.
How to make the soup
The flavor of the Delicata squash was a little milder than the pumpkin, and the soup turned out excellent. It makes me wish the Delicata were larger so it wouldn’t be so hard. Maybe I will have to try to grow another larger winter squash.
Here is a list of ingredients. I do not remember where I found the recipe that I used as a guide. There is a printable pdf of my recipe here.I call it:
- 1 medium to large onion, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon of dehydrated garlic (saved from my garden)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 8 cups of cooked squash
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 6 cups water
- 2 generous tablespoons of chicken base
- 1 cup of cream
It will fit comfortably, with room to stir, in an 8.5 quart pot.
Saute’ onions, garlic, and butter until tender.
Add everything else EXCEPT the cream, mix and bring to a simmer.
Use an immersion blender in the pot if you have one. If you don’t have one, you could mash it with a manual potato masher or blend it in portions using a blender. However, be warned that putting hot soup in a blender can be hazardous.
Making sure that the soup is NOT at a boil, stir in the cream.
This makes a very satisfying meal and I didn’t need anything else for dinner. My husband put Guyere cheese on his and he really liked that.
So, how long does winter squash store? Apparently, it can last well into March if kept in the right conditions. No canning or freezing necessary. Just store it under a counter or on a dry shelf in the kitchen. It doesn’t get much easier than that.