Tips For Dogs

Oh, squash it

Oh, squash it

One of our favorite crops is the winter squash with its variety of colors, flavors, shapes and sizes. The Butternut, Acorn, Hubbard, Delicata, Kobacha, sweet dumpling, Turban, Spaghetti and Butternut varieties are the most common. However, there are literally hundreds of different varieties of winter squash in the world to try. With all this variety, it’s hard to get tired of using them to make some really good food recipes.

Unfortunately, winter squash vines can reach 20 feet in length, and therefore most backyard gardens cannot accommodate the plants. Experienced gardeners will try to grow a pumpkin on a trellis at an angle along a building, wall or fence. The advantage here, apart from saving space, is that the vines are above ground and this reduces problems with blight and other diseases. Vines, when grown on a pergola, will shade the building or window, deck or front driveway – relieving residents from the onslaught of summer heat.

Most farmers markets will offer a wide range of varieties to choose from. When selecting any winter squash from the farmer’s stand, test the rind with a thumbnail. It should feel hard, solid and almost impenetrable. The end of the vine must be dry and shriveled; the small part of the vine will often fall off as the squash matures more in storage. The base end should also feel very dry. Choosing a pumpkin that is fully ripe and properly dried ensures that your pumpkin will keep well through the winter. An added benefit of a fully ripe pumpkin is that its seeds will be fluffy and ready to roast and serve as a snack.

Pumpkins that are not fully ripe will not store well over the winter – the edges will start to shrivel and soften and then the smelly rot will begin. However, when you have unripe winter squash, you can use it in the kitchen and turn it into another delicious, super easy dish.

Just cut in half (or quarters) and scoop out the seeds (don’t bother saving unripe seeds for snacks, there’s no meat in them). Then cut it into 1.5 inch thick slices.

In a small bowl, mix some garlic (crushed or dry powder), salt and oil together. Brush this mixture onto both sides of each slice. Place on a baking sheet and grill for 3-8 minutes on each side or until the meat is tender. It makes a great side dish for almost any dish you serve.

Alternatively, fill the oven with as many unripe pumpkins as you can fit in there (to make better use of the heat) and once they cool, store in 1 c. containers. Place 1/4 c. of the pureed fruit with a little hot water in the dog’s dish and watch the puppy’s joy begin!

There are many ways to make use of the bountiful pumpkin harvest. Our From a Little Garden cookbook has lots of recipes for using ripe winter squash and their seeds.


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