Although our gardens are slowing down now (at least in some parts of the country) there are still vegetables waiting to be picked and stored or used.
I love this time of the year, and storing squash is one of the great pleasures of the fall garden.
Filling my root cellar with various types of squash makes me feel ready to settle in for the long winter.
Squash don’t need to be brought in right away unless you live in a rainy area, in which case you’ll need to get them off the ground. Preventing mildew is really the only reason to bring squash in before the first frost. If you grew them nestled in straw, this won’t be a worry.
Harvesting – Use a sharp knife and cut them from the vine leaving about 1 inch of vine attached to the squash. Rinse squash off outside to remove any dirt from the skin. Some people like to rinse them in a solution of 1/4 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water, but I don’t ever do this.
After the squash are washed, allow them to dry out in the sun, turning a couple of times to make sure that all sides get exposed to the sun and air. Before storing your squash they must be perfectly dry. If they are brought in slightly damp, they can mold and spoil. Correctly stores squash can last for the entire winter.
Storing – Store them in a cool dark place. If you have a root cellar that is ideal. Otherwise, store them in the coolest spot in your house which stays just above freezing. Storing them in the fridge makes it more likely that they will mold or get soft. A cool dry room, preferably one which is fairly dark, will keep squash as well as potatoes, onions and garlic, and a variety of root vegetables all safe through the winter.
My favorite squash is butternut. I use it to make risotto, gnocchi, and my very favorite winter dish, butternut squash soup. I got the recipe for this special soup from a gardening friend. We exchanged seeds, packages of magazines, rooted cuttings and all manner of things from our gardens for years.
This soup recipe is the most wonderful gift of all from my dear garden buddy Ed. He passed away three years ago, and I miss him. This soup and the beautiful orange poppies which grow so profusely in my garden are my favorite mementos he left for me, and I hope you enjoy and pass this recipe for squash soup, too.
Ed Grover’s Squash Soup
- 6 Tbs X Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 carrots peeled and sliced (I grate them)
- 3 medium onions chopped
- 8 cups veg or chicken stock
- 1 entire head of garlic, roasted
- S&P to taste
- 2 butternut squash, halved & roasted
- 2 potatoes, peeled and cut up
- 2 -3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crumbled
- 1 or 2 cups cream, milk or half and half, added after the soup is pureed.
Garnish with sauteed red pepper, a dollop of sour cream and some chives, or some toasted nuts, or some cheesy croutons- or don’t garnish at all.
Pour olive oil into large soup pot and slowly cook onions over low medium until lightly browned.
Add the roasted squash & roasted garlic, ginger, vegetables and carrot and stir well. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
Add seasonings and parsley and simmer for another 15 minutes. Cool and blend in batches in blender or food processor. Reheat soup in clean pot and serve with fresh thyme as garnish.