Skip to main content

Harvesting the butternut squash

We worried about when to harvest the butternut squash. There's no greening, yellowing, reddening, deepening or other particular sign of ripeness once the squash grow to a certain size. Google Extension Service suggested harvesting before the first frost.  In California, that would be the day before Never.

In Nature's wisdom, the plants told us. The huge green vines that had sprung up on their own, just turned brown and shrank back on their own, leaving six heavy butternut squashes dangling from their red and yellow net bags. (We'd strung them up to keep them away from the wetness of the earth and the mouths of the snails.) We cut them down and divided the harvest.

My first butternut squash, I simply seeded, roasted and scraped the flesh from the shell. Butternut is bland, a lovely gold color, but -- yawn -- not much flavor.  But it was fresh and home grown. That imparts something wonderful to it, if you have the stillness and focus to be aware.

I have a recipe for roasted butternut squash with pear soup, but it tends to be sweet and fruity. So I turned to my copy of Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables, which its lovely, delicate illustrations and sensual prose. Of butternut and other winter squashes she writes they "can be served diced and sautéed as a lightly browned accompaniment to main courses; in a soup -- baked first, slightly mashed, simmered in chicken stock with onions and herbs, and garnished with shavings of Parmesan; in a gratin, tossed with a persillade, drizzled with olive oil, and slowly baked; in gratins with potatoes, flavored with bacon' in onion and squash panade -- layered with toasted levain bread, flavored with sage and Gruyere cheese, moistened with stock or water, and baked; in risotti, with thyme and white truffles; or a simple purée enriched with butter."

She suggests cutting a butternut squash in two at the point where the column of the neck balloons out into a wide bulb. Taking the bulbous part, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds like you would for an acorn squash, then peel it -- carefully -- with a sharp knife.  The neck can either be peeled whole or cut in half.

I'm thinking of using my last butternut squash according to one of Water's hallmark, simple recipes:

Oven-Roasted Squash with Garlic and Parsley

Take a favorite winter squash, such as butternut, peel and seed it. Cut into 1-inch chunks and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread the chunks evenly on a baking sheet and roast at 375º F for 40 minutes, until the chunks are tender and lightly brown.  Stir from time to time to prevent burning.

Peel and finely chop a few cloves of garlic and sauté in olive oil for just a minute, being careful not to brown.  Toss the squash with the garlic and a handful of chopped parsley, taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

Popular posts from this blog

Hand-Knit Trellis Now Ready for Climbing Foot-Long Beans

Just as the "June" gloom is starting to burn off, I finished my knitted trellis for the garden.

It completely surrounds one of our bamboo tripods, with space at the bottom for tending the romaine lettuces growing within the tripod.

It's knit out of nylon twine on US 35 needles. While the nylon has no stretch (the way a wool yarn does), the huge gauge has loads of give. The piece was knit flat with ties attached along one edge.  It is tied to the tripod along one leg.

One some early samples for a knitted plant trellis, I experimented with lace patterns.  They look lovely, but I realized two things. One, once the plants grow up the trellis any knitting pattern is lost. Secondly, the plants and leaves need space to grow in and out of.

I used a pattern for a shawl: k1, yo, k2tog and then repeat. I got lost a number of times: the yarn-overs drifted over other stitches on occasion. As this was a speed project that won't be visible ones the beans grow over it, I didn't w…

My new favorite cauliflower recipe

We've had a couple of glorious weeks of sunshine that caused the cauliflowers to race right into the bolting stage. They've all been harvested and eaten.  We're just waiting for some spare time to take out the leaves and stems to make room for something new in the garden.

Karen and I have slightly different perspectives on what to plant: she likes novelty -- rainbow or watermelon radishes or purple or gold cauliflower; I'm more of a traditionalist; the novelty varieties never seem to turn out as well as the originals.

The fall of the great tomato plant

Our great tomato plant -- great in productivity, great in flavor, great in height -- has succumbed to gravity. Fortunately, it appears to have been a gentle collapse of the bamboo supports rather than a stem-snapping disaster. We're still harvesting tomatoes from it.

During the week, we harvested enough to make another batch of DWP-dried tomatoes. But we also got a great tip from Dorothy Reinhold, the shockingly talented creator of Shockingly Delicious about roasting and preserving tomatoes using a recipe from  Trying that recipe is definitely in our future -- if we can squeeze enough tomatoes out before our prize plant curls up its roots and dies.