As we are finally past the danger of frost I can begin the process of getting this year’s garden planted. Some cold tolerant things are already in the ground but the tender things, tomatoes and peppers, eggplant and basil are waiting in the greenhouse. I’m making good use of a rainy day to clean out my root cellar and my upstairs storage room. We keep the squash in an empty bedroom where it is plenty cool and dry.
We did very well this year. I only have three big Hubbard squash and two small butternuts we haven’t eaten. They have held up just fine, but the long warm days could cause them to get soft and moldy any time now. So before that happens and I lose all of that good food, I will cook them up and preserve them in other ways. The will be just enough to get us through until we harvest again in October.
The Blue Hubbards are too big for me to handle alone without a little creativity. With their tough skin, the only way for me to split one is to hold it up over my head and let it crash on to a stone patio. I may look a little silly but it does the trick. A couple more drops and I have good sized chunks that will fit nicely in a roasting pan or stock pot. Next I remove the pulp, rich with seeds and set it aside. I have pulled out seeds to plant and seeds to share and still have plenty to treat the chickens with. I have a pan in the oven and a pot on the stove. As soon as one is done I’ll add the final big squash. When all are soft I shall remove the meat and run it through my Roma Food Mill to remove any stringiness. The excellent squash will then be handled in one of two ways – pulverized into delicious powder, and frozen.
I plan to dehydrate 9 trays in my Excalibur. I spread it out to a uniform thickness on the paraflex sheets and dry it to crispiness. It needs to be so dry that I can run it though my food processor and make squash powder, a wonderful, versatile and long lasting source of vitamins and deliciousness. I store mine in mason jars. A pint jar is just about right for two hefty servings .All you need to have a vegetable side dish ready for the table is boiling water – just pour it over the powder until you have the desired consistency. It makes terrific food for babies and nice addition to Macaroni and Cheese.
I hope to get two trays dried in the next two days. The rest of the squash will end up in freezer bags. If frozen flat they take up very little room. A bag will thaw in the refrigerator in a couple of hours or under running water in a couple of minutes.
The best thing about squash is that a single large one will produce an astonishing number of seeds. The potential is really mind-boggling.
When you poke that small seed in the ground, think about that. Every time you water the plant or pull the surrounding weeds, pull off the squash beetles or side dress with some compost, remember that you are holding a future filled with abundance. How awesome is that?