Santa Barbara Garden Post

Taming Your Butternut/Winter Squash!

This is the hard kind, tan to orange colored, with neck and bulb. You may have passed it by because it takes a long growing time to make that hard squash, it isn’t very handsome, takes up a lot of space, and is hard to peel. But, here are some tips for making peeling easy, and consider letting it grow on a sunny hillside, or an abandoned area, or among your landscape ornamentals. It’s wonderful big leaves can act like a living mulch for an otherwise dry area. It, itself, does need regular water to grow those huge fine leaves, and to produce those tasty squash that are so high in Vitamin A, good for your skin and eyes! It likes heat, so plant it when it’s good and warm. Be thinking now where you might put some next late spring. The squash can be stored for months, so you can eat them as you need them!

Removing the Skin Some people like the skin, which solves the whole matter. Others find it tough and papery, less than palatable. If you decide to peel your squash, nuke it for 3-4 minutes (online I saw anywhere from 2 to 10 mins! 3 worked fine for me), let cool, then peel. If you don’t want to nuke it, have a good sharp knife on hand.

Next to the obvious tip of keeping your knives sharp, is the importance of stabilizing that puppy. That’s why first you cut the bulb end off, then halve it, leaving you 3 pieces with flat edges. That way you have stable ways to hold your squash pieces. This is critical when peeling, a notoriously difficult task because of the thickness and density of that squash.

If you choose to remove the skin, before you peel, scoop out the seeds, easiest with a grapefruit spoon, fork tines will do just fine. If you try to scoop seeds after you peel, it’s hard to hold the squash. It’s slippery. Stand your pieces and use that sharp knife, or a sturdy sharp potato peeler, down their length. Not a task for children. Do be careful, yourself, please. Check out Alanna Kellogg’s page, the Veggie Evangelist!

Delicious! Have it as fries, chunked in soups and stews, baked stuffed with your favorites, roasted small chopped with apples and onions drizzled with your favorite sauce, mashed, and creamed topped with bacon bits, puréed sprinkled with cinnamon and/or brown sugar, drizzled with Grade A maple syrup, or honey, spread on pizza or tortillas, baked in muffins and breads, or simply steam cubes and dress with olive oil, tamari, ginger and top with pumpkin seeds!

A great winter treat from Foodalogue.com is Butternut Squash Salad with Vanilla Vinaigrette! See the image above!

Here is the vinaigrette recipe:

Juice and zest of 1 orange

1/2 cup cider vinegar

Scrapings of 1 vanilla bean – After scraping the bean steep the shell in the dressing overnight and remove just before serving!

1 teaspoon ginger sugar

Extra virgin olive oil

Layer your platter with arugula, lettuces of your choice, drizzle with vinaigrette. Add your baked squash you tossed in olive oil, top with pom arils (that’s pomegranate seeds) and pumpkin seeds and more vinaigrette. Are you hungry now?!

Your Butternut seeds are edible too! Clean, dry, roast, eat! If you are a gardener, clean, dry, keep! Unless you think some cross pollination by insects may have occurred. In which case, buy seeds or transplants and go for it! If your source is pure, no need to go out and buy a package of seeds! You are definitely going to save some of those pups for planting! They are viable up to 6 years when kept in cool, dry storage conditions.

About Cerena Childress

Cerena Childress gardens at Pilgrim Terrace Community Gardens and her Garden Post column appears on the Santa Barbara View every weekend. Cerena is a Master Gardener, and speaks at various venues frequently. She writes to help new gardeners get started, remind experienced gardeners, to help keep us planting at the best times, to plan ahead, and to inspire us to try new techniques! Being outdoors gardening is not only healthy for our bodies and spirits, but provides the most nutritious organic veggies right on your table with no food miles at all!

3 Responses to Santa Barbara Garden Post

  1. Anonymous January 21, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    Yum! Sounds perfect for a rainy weekend. Glad to have the rain last night!

    • Cerena Childress January 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

      Anonymous! Good to hear from you again! The rains have been wonderful. Today I harvested the biggest broccoli I’ve ever grown! I’ve been enjoying my own blend – potato/winter squash/leek soup. I love the color. I make a huge batch, and toward the end, it is a little thicker, so I use it as a sauce over other veggies and rice.

  2. Barbara January 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    Love your columns, Cerena. Thank you. Hoping this archive will remain long enough for me to put them to use. Happy New year!

Leave a Reply