Winter Squashes & Pumpkins

     What an amazing group of vegetables, very versatile, many different flavors and uses. They generally keep depending on variety from a few weeks for the thin skinned varieties, to all winter for the thicker skinned. They all benefit from sitting a while after they are harvested so the carbohydrates in their flesh can turn to sugars like sweet potatoes To clear something up, pumpkins are squash and actually in the same family as summer squash. The cucurbit pepo family like zucchini, yellow squash and acorn squash. They are used for decoration; pureed for soups, roasted with root vegetables, mashed like potatoes, they make great deserts, baked with brown sugar, made to pies and substitute for sweet potato casserole. Here are a couple of recipes for winter squashes. Many people look at these large squashes and wonder how in the world do I cook this. This is a picture of how to process a large squash especially if you are going to use it for soup, pies, and casseroles or mashed or to be frozen. You will cut it in half and scoop the seeds and loose fibers out then cut it into pieces so you will be able to place them flesh side down on a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan with a little water in the bottom then bake on low heat until the skin is soft enough that you can then scoop the flesh off of it easily. Cushaw squash is good roasted, or in pies here is a recipe for roasted squash you could use many types of winter squash for this. This type of squash also pairs with ginger well. Peel your squash; you may only want to use 1/2 of it since they are large, yields 5-6c. Squash. Cube it into 1" cubes set aside then finely chop 1/4 c. rosemary and slice 3 large garlic cloves. Preheat oven to 400 degrees toss squash, rosemary and garlic with 4 tablespoons olive oil place in a shallow baking pan and cook for 20 min. stopping 1/2 way to stir so it doesn't stick. Finish with a little salt and pepper and Parmesan cheese. Georgia candy roaster squash that is in this picture is a member of the c.moshata family. It also includes the butternut squash, seminole/creek pumpkin, Long Island Cheese pumpkin. The squashes in this group are the best eating squashes in my opinion. They are thick fleshed with a very fine grain so they aren't stringy and they are generally good keepers. They also make the best pies and casseroles. Enjoy the many tastes and uses as you explore this diverse and under appreciated vegetable.