Pumpkins and winter squash are synonymous with autumn. Being muck loving plants they will have produced a good crop if grown in a sunny spot with plenty of manure. By October the fruits are mature and ready to be harvested, before the first frosts arrive.
Summer squash such as courgette, pattypan and tronbonchino are pretty fast growing. By contrast, their cousins, the pumpkins and winter squash, having sprawled around the garden all summer will only now be ready. Allow their skin to dry and cure and most squashes can be stored successfully for several months.
Pumpkins have a higher water content than winter squash and to my mind this means they have more limited potential in the kitchen. The smaller varieties such as Amazonka and Becky F1 are great for cooking and have a sweet, nutty flavour. The larger varieties make fantastic Halloween lanterns with the flesh being good for soup.
When hollowing out your pumpkin don’t discard the seeds. Drizzled with olive oil and roasted they make a healthy and tasty snack. Pumpkin seeds also add a lovely nutty taste to homemade bread.
The colours, shapes and sizes of winter squash varies widely with some being really attractive. Squashes tend to have a denser flesh than pumpkins and to my mind are better for cooking.
When cooking your squash don’t worry about peeling it first. It’s far easier to scoop the flesh away from the skin once cooked or, in the case of thin skinned varieties to just eat the skin. It’s lovely!
From Plot to Plate
Pumpkins and winter squash are packed with vitamins A, B, C and E and are also a good source of potassium. So, healthy as well as being tasty!
A good carrier of flavour, pumpkin and squash flesh works well with chilli, onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, rocket, apples, walnuts and nutmeg.
Stuffed squash and soup are perennial favourites but being a fruit squash can also be used in baking. Pull out your favourite carrot cake recipe and simply substitute the carrot for raw, grated squash.
As a change from sausage and mash how about trying sausage and squash? Halve your squash horizontally, scoop out the seeds and any stringy flesh and rub the inside with olive oil. Then sprinkle inside each half some dried chili, chopped garlic and nutmeg. Add a knob of butter and roast. Then just scoop out the flesh, bash it with a fork to break up any lumps and serve with good quality sausages. Delicious.