Friday, November 20, 2009

Cooking up Squash

Yesterday I decided I had time to cook up my squash. I always cook in large batches and I could fit about half the squash I had on hand in the oven. I cooked up the two Magdalenas that I grew and one sugar pumpkin and one butternut. I choose the last two because they were starting to rot already and had to be used. The squash just isn't keeping well this year. Usually I would wait until I had used this batch up before cooking more, but this year I think I'll get it all done within the next couple of days. The freezer is a safer place for it.

Magdalena Big Cheese is a pretty neon orange

Cooking squash is one of my least favorite chores. I hate having to cut through their tough skins and worst of all I hate squash guts. They are slimy and gross and don't like to separate from the flesh. Ick. I think it ranks up there with squishing slugs in the garden.

Pumpkins are always the worst. They have the thickest skins and are terrible to cut. I'm always afraid of losing a finger or putting a permenant cut in my counter. I gladly gave up making Jack-o-lanterns when the kids moved out. I know Halloween is supposed to be scary, but I'm happy to let go of this scary chore.

I breathed a sigh of relief when they were all chopped up and gutted. I put them in their roasting pans face down and poured in some water. I cooked them up at 375F for an hour. This is a long time. Last year I froze my squash in cubes and did the traditional 350 for 45 minutes. Cooking it longer gives it a nice flavor and if the rind starts to brown up, it becomes really easy to peel. If I were making it in cubes it would be over cooked and wouldn't hold its shape, but for puree, it was perfect.

I mixed all the squash varieties together in the puree. I like mixed squash. I find pumpkin to not be very good alone, but mixed with others it adds to the flavor. Butternuts are really, really sweet, but can be a bit overwhelming. My Magdalenas were more mild and not sweet at all. They do have the butternut flavor, but it isn't so overpowering. Mixed together they made a great puree - about 9 cups total. I'll be using it in pumpkin cake, pumpkin pie and casseroles.

I've thought about the cooking up the seeds for many years. I've never done it before. They always seemed a bit inedible to me. But I figured their time had come. I hope they are worth the effort because after separating them from the slime and drying them out they were a lot of work so far. Does anyone have a favorite squash seed recipe? I figure I ought to make one that is sweet and one that is savory. Or maybe I should just salt them? What do you do with your pumpkin seeds?


  1. Hey Daphne! That Magdalena is really gorgeous, and your puree looks fantastic. I'll have to do that when we cook our pumpkins. As for pumpkin and squash seeds, head over to Poor Richard's Almanac and check out my two posts "Clarification: pumpkin seeds" and "Pumpkin seeds redux." You'll see a number of recipes for roasting pumpkin and squash seeds, many submitted by folks who do it every year. Let us know what you try and what you think!

  2. Ha-ha....I love "sqush"!

    If I'm going to cook squash for the freezer, I just stab it with a butcher knife in a few places, then zap it in the microwave long enough to start the cooking process, which makes the rind easy to remove. Then I dice it up and finish cooking it once it's naked.

    I roasted pumpkin seeds with salt and garlic powder this year. I hated them, but daughter loved them.

  3. These look delicious. And the color is amazing. I don't know nearly enough about squash as I should. I'll be interested to see what you do with all of this puree.

  4. OFB, I'll have to do that. I did read the posts, but haven't read all the comments.

    Granny, Ooops! I can't type worth anything. I go so fast that I leave things out and whatnot. I usually catch the title errors at least. Fixed now. Maybe I'll try the microwave trick. They are such a pain. Well salt and garlic powder are at least easy, but they obviously don't have the Granny seal of approval.

    Thomas, I make pie, cake, casserole (which is really just pie but no crust and the flour is inside the casserole - but since it is called casserole I can eat it at dinnertime instead of for dessert). I also put it on my tortillas with beans, cheese and salsa (and whatever else is around). I should learn to eat it savory more often, but I tend not to like it that way.

  5. It wasn't the flavor of the pumpkin seeds, it was the texture. I felt like I was chewing on garlic flavored toothpicks, and the little "splinters" kept getting caught in my teeth.

  6. Okay, Daphne, your comment to Thomas has forced me to comment again. What do you mean, you don't like savory pumpkin/squash stuff?!! You've probably been eatign it in chunks (eeewww). But your puree is simply perfect for adulterating everything from chili to ravioli stuffing (with browned butter and sage sauce), not to mention my all-time fave, curried pumpkin soup (again, check PRA for soup and chili recipes). SO good!!! I can see that puree swirled into cheesecake, coffee cake, bars, and cornbread as well. I can even imagine it as a substitute for tomato sauce on a pizza, spiced with cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar and topped with a mix of mild shredded white cheeses and---uh-oh, fellow vegetarians please cover your eyes!!!---bacon, barbecue, pulled pork, or maybe chicken or shrimp. Well, maybe we veggie types could still enjoy it by substituting diced sweet onion and yellow bell peppers for the meat. What do you think?

  7. Granny, ewww that sounds terrible. That was my expectation since they look like they are inedible. I was hoping I was wrong. I guess I'll find out.

    OFB, OK outside my house I've had savory things that I love. I've had squash ravioli that is fabulous. I did have chunks of squash once cooked for me that was delicious (we all fought over them). I can see that in chili it would be wonderful. I think I may have even tried it once after reading one of your posts, but sadly my husband isn't into his veggies and likes things like he has had them always so I tend to make chili for both of us and can't add it. Sigh. I have a bad excuse for pumpkin raviolis. They take so dang long to make. You can laugh at me now. I make my own tortillas and make apple butter. You'd think a little ravioli making wouldn't scare me away. My MIL even gave me a hand cranked pasta maker with a ravioli form. I used to make homemade pasta. I haven't in about a decade. I really ought to make a huge batch of them and freeze them. Again my husband won't eat them, but they would make a great lunch. Maybe if you post a good recipe, you will convince me. :>

  8. I wonder if they would be good lightly roasted with salt and them coated in chocolate.. just a thought, never tried it before.

  9. I think OFB has the corner on seed recipies. You should check them out. We did a pretty killer squash soup that I posted about on NDiN - Squash Gone Bad, and that was followed up by a really nice squash pie. The options are endless.

    I like canning the soup or the puree rather than freezing it. It is faster when you want to use it, and less likely to go bad when the power goes out. (Happens a lot at my house...)

  10. Dan oh anything chocolate covered has to be good right? :> I like the thought.

    Alan, well here in the burbs the power usually only goes out for an hour or two. The longest was about half a day, which isn't enough to defrost my freezer. So barring any major emergency I'm pretty good. I do wish I could can the puree though. It is easier to find in the cupboard. I've always been told that it is too thick to home can. That you can only pressure can it if you do it in cubes. I still keep thinking of buying a pressure canner for dried beans though. I love my beans and all the different kinds take up so much space in the freezer. Then I want to make chili and find out I ran out of precooked kidney beans. At four in the afternoon it is too late.

  11. The Victory Garden Cookbook has 2 recipes for pumpkin seeds, but I agree with granny , too much roughage for me. Marion has some great information for the garden chef including a safer way to cut up a pumpkin. We like Hubbard squash. Ed cuts that up outside with the hand saw. It's too big to fit in the oven or the microwave but we love the flavor.

  12. Oh yeah, I clearly need to make squash ravioli for you.

  13. I always try to get fancy with my pumpkin seeds, but my family seems like like just roasted with olive oil and salt.

    I also am always afraid of losing a finger when I cut a butternet. But when you said pumpkin, I thought of something. We use those little cheapy saw like carving knives you buy in pumpking carving kits to carve pumpkins, and you can get so exact with it, and it's so easy. I may try digging it out to but my butternut and see how that works.

  14. If you don't like cutting a field or sugar pumpkin, be sure to avoid Queensland Blues and Jarrahdales. Great flavor, but man, what a rind. The seeds of the Queensland Blue are big and fat. They'd make nice roasters. But I have to agree with Annie's Granny. They're pretty fibrous. It's like mixing cardboard with the nutmeat. I wonder if there is a way to shell them easily to get the "pepitas" inside.

  15. I have been processing about one pumpkin or squash a week (on average) working through my pile of them. I did a small pumpkin today that yielded 4 cups - 2 of which I used immediately to make a pumpkin pie and 2 cups that went into the freezer for another day. I am getting quite a stash of pumpkin puree and cubed squash in the freezer.

    One of our favorite pumpkin seed recipes is to coat them in melted butter and then sprinkle with some red cayenne pepper and then roast them.

  16. Becky, I like that. I could use a hand saw :>. Now if I could find a vise big enough for it.

    Stefaneener, lol yes I need someone to do that. Yum.

    Wendy, maybe I should try my seeds that way. Very plain. I thought about those when I was cutting up the pumpkin too. I wonder where my old ones went. If it works well let me know.

    Lou, I wonder if you could eat them like sunflower seeds. I'll have to try that out too. I do like pepitas.

    kitsapFG, spicy sounds pretty good. It seems most people like them fairly plain. I might go for that too.

  17. These look delicious.
    dimm i'm hungry..