Winter Squash Bounty

Winter squash are filling up the farmers markets, roadside stands, and supermarkets, overflowing in a bounty of shapes, sizes and colors. How to choose the best ones?

Array of winter squash
‘Peanut’ Pumpkin is a bumpy weird one

Winter squash are different from summer squash (like zucchini and yellow crookneck)—the skin is hard and inedible, while the inside is firm and flavorful.  Leaving winter squash on the vine until late in the summer, you can store them for long periods of time because of their tough outer shell. I have a couple of pumpkins that I harvested last year and are still good!

Butternut

Butternut is at the top of my list for many reasons. Sweet and nutty and very nutritious – full of vitamins A and C and fiber.  It is also versatile in many types of dishes – soups, roasted, steamed, risotto, pies, pasta, gratins – the recipes are endless.  And perfect for Thanksgiving!

Porcelain doll pumpkin with Black Futsu squash, a Japanese heirloom

Butternut is a  seasonal squash that can be cooked in a variety of ways – baked or roasted, in a puree, in soups or stews, and as a sweet addition to other hearty winter dishes. For a great Butternut Squash soup recipe, go to Winter Squash Round Up.

Butternut Squash Soup

But I just picked up a Boston Marrow winter squash and it will give Butternut a “run for the money”.

Chop your Boston Marrow into manageable chunks for peeling

Boston Marrow

Boston Marrow can be hard to find but I lucked out and found this heirloom at local farmers market.

Boston Marrow is a beautiful deep orange
A pile of Boston marrow Squash, photo from Burpee

According to Burpee who is now carrying this hard to find squash, they describe it as; “Once you taste the melt-in-your-mouth “pumpkin” pie that this squash yields, you’ll be making it as often as possible. Sweet, carrot-orange flesh, cooks to a creamy, custardy texture for perfect pies, puddings and breads. Delicious alone. A fine choice for areas with a short growing season”.

 

 

This blue ribbon winning basket features a Boston marrow squash

An heirloom squash with more than 200 years of documented history, and even thought to be much older – like ancient – Boston Marrow originated in the upstate New York area. Legend has it that Native Americans gifted this squash to colonists and seeds were later passed on to Salem, Massachusetts in 1831. Marrow soon became one of the most important commercial squashes for over 150 years. But in modern times, nearly every seed company had dropped this unique treasure. In recent years, with the interest in heirloom veggies increasing, it is being picked up again by seed companies.

Used primarily as a pie squash, its skin is also thin and easy to peel. Due to its success in cooler conditions with a shorter growing season, the squash has spread throughout the US. If kept in a cool dry place, the squash can last to the following spring, another trait prized by early growers.

Growing between 5 to 52 pounds each, these squash can be made into quite a few pies. And what a fabulous pie!  Flesh of the Boston Marrow squash is less sweet and dense than that of Butternut squash, which gives it a wonderful custardy flavor.

One piece of the squash being peeled
A piece of Boston Marrow with the seeds removed

Resulting in a much better tasting pumpkin pie, it is lighter in texture and flavor. Starting with a basic recipe from AllRecipes for a butternut squash pie, I have revised the spices to my liking and substituted Boston Marrow. The resulting pie was a big hit with my family for its creaminess and wonderful flavor. Everyone was coming back for one more piece, until it was gone.

From a 6.5 pound squash, I was able to make 3 pies!

Boston Marrow Squash Pie

A wonderful fall pie recipe; if you can't find Boston Marrow, substitute Butternut Squash

Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • 3 C Chunks of winter squash, peeled
  • 1 C Brown sugar, packed
  • 1 T Cornstarch
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 12 oz can Evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 t Cinnamon
  • 1/4 t Freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t Ground cloves
  • 1/4 t Ground allspice
  • 1/2 t Ground ginger
  • 1 Unbaked pie shell

Instructions

  1. Steam the squash chunks in a saucepan for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain.


  2. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.


  3. Pour into pie shell and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice. Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes, until the center is set.


  4. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
A Japanese heirloom,  Black Futsu, on the vine before turning a dusky beige orange
Black Futsu
Porcelain Doll Pumpkin on the vine before turning light orange pink
You need a lot of space to grow winter squash; Here my vines almost engulfed my potting shed
Artistic array of winter squash

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