Squash Season Kickoff!
This week marks the official start of winter squash season! In the nine remaining weeks of the Harvest Basket season (our last delivery of Harvest Baskets will be the week of December 10th), you are going to meet an array of different winter squash. All of them are cured and ready to eat, but will also store for another few months, either on your countertop or in a cool, dry, dark place. There is no need to refrigerate winter squash; in fact their preferred storage temperature is around 50 degrees. Even though they look tough, handle them gently. Bruised winter squash won't store as long.
Many people are new to winter squash and often relate to them more as seasonal décor than food. We’re here to encourage you to EAT them, because they are fantastically sweet, delicious and versatile. We’ve grown a selection of our all-time favorite varieties and each week I’ll give you tips, suggestions and recipes that will help you enjoy them. Don’t be intimidated by their tough skins, large size, or funky shapes. Winter squash is one of the highlights of seasonal eating in our climate, and lucky for all of us it was a good year for squash on the farm!
A word about kitchen safety and winter squash: Their skin is often tough as nails, so be very careful cutting into them. If you’re cutting a squash in half or into slices, you’ll want to use a large, heavy-bladed knife, sharp-tipped knife (not a thin-bladed, paring, or delicate ceramic knife). We once broke the blade of our best knife while trying to hack open a winter squash, so now we only use a heavy-duty stainless steel chef knife for the job. It’s best to insert the tip of the knife into the squash first and then work the blade down and through the flesh of the squash. Be careful that the squash doesn’t spin out of your grip, or that the knife slips. Always be strategic about where your hands are and where the knife is headed. If you have a microwave, some people suggest nuking the squash for a couple minutes to pre-soften it before attempting to cut into it.
This Week’s Squash: Spaghetti Squash
I'll admit it feels a little risky to give out spaghetti squash as the debut in the winter squash line-up, for fear of scaring everyone off. Spaghetti squash has a bad reputation among some - as the quintessential hippie squash; the squash with an identity crisis (am I a vegetable or am I a noodle?); the squash that gets scoffed at; the squash that nobody eats, nobody buys, and everyone makes fun of.
I was one of those naysayers for many years, until I gave spaghettis a chance. And I discovered that they are worth eating – not just because they’re good for you, but because they really, truly are good. They are also one of the first squash to ripen and cure, and they don’t need any time to “age” (some varieties like butternuts and kabochas allegedly improve in flavor and texture after a few weeks in storage, but spaghettis are good right out of the field).
So here they are this week. Hopefully with a little nudge you can be convinced to give them a try as well. A few eating tips:
- Many recipes I’ve come across say to cook your spaghetti squash in the microwave. Pierce squash (about an inch deep) all over with a small sharp knife to prevent bursting. Cook in an 800-watt microwave oven on high power (100 percent) for 6 to 7 minutes. Turn squash over and microwave until squash feels slightly soft when pressed, 8 to 10 minutes more. Cool squash for 5 minutes.
- You can also bake it in your oven. Preheat to 350. Pierce it with a knife as above, put the whole squash in the oven on a tray, and bake for about an hour, or until soft to the touch. You can also halve it, brush the cut sides with butter, and then bake face-down on a cookie sheet until fork-tender, 35 minutes to an hour.
- Once your squash is cooked fork-tender, cool it for a few minutes and then rake out the stranded “noodly” flesh with a fork into a bowl.
- Dress it up with anything: marinara sauce, butter and herbs, pesto, cream sauce with chantarelles, or anything else you can invent.
Here are a couple recipes to give you a start:
Good luck, and don't be intimidated!
LAST WEEK of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares!
This is the 20th and final week of Abby's Greens Salad Shares. If you are a salad share member, be sure to pick up your share from the marked cooler on your pickup day, and enjoy your last week of pre-paid greens!
You can continue to get Abby's Greens at various locations, including:
- Valley Flora Farmstand (Saturdays only from 10-2 in Langlois, through Nov. 17th)
- Langlois Market (Langlois)
- Coos Head Food Store (North Bend)
- Mother's Natural Grocery (Bandon)
- Price n Pride (Bandon)
- Seaweed Natural Grocery (Port Orford)
Thanks for all your salad-eating this season!
This kale is the opposite of “no frills.” The curliest kale known to man, it’s hard to fit these puffy bunches into the tote! It’s an aptly named variety, growing straight through the winter and yielding enough leafy green-ness for all our CSA members, plus some to sell, and providing an endless supply of kale for our favorite winter salad: kaleslaw. You can eat this variety just like the others. It’s also easy to de-rib this one: just hold onto the bottom of the stem and tear off the leaves in one quick swipe up the rib.
Stores in the fridge for at least a week in a plastic bag.
New Fall Farmstand Hours: Saturdays ONLY from 10 am to 2pm
Our farmstand is now open every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm, through November 17th! We are no longer open on Wednesdays. The autumn abundance is awesome right now, as summer crops collide with fall food: peppers, tomatoes, chard, kale, onions, potatoes, leeks, spinach, salad mix, melons, apples, beets, carrots, zucchini, herbs, and much more.
Cranky Baby Hot Sauce: Put some spice in you life!
This year’s Serrano hot pepper crop is coming on strong, which means Bets is at it again in the farm kitchen, brewing up batches of her infamous Cranky Baby Hot Sauce. Handcrafted at the farm with homegrown hot peppers that are vine-ripened to a sassy red in her greenhouses, this Tabasco-like hot sauce strikes the perfect balance between hot, sweet and tangy. Makes a great gift, or a standby condiment in your own kitchen (we go through it by the gallon!).
Available by the bottle, half case, or case:
- $5/bottle (5 oz)
- $27/half case (6 bottles)
- $48/case (12 bottles)
To order, please email us your: name, pickup location, and the quantity of bottles you would like. We will deliver to your pickup site.
In your share this week:
- Red Long of Tropea torpedo onions
- Head Lettuce
- Winter Squash - Spaghetti
- Tomatoes – Red Slicers
This means that some pickup locations will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.
The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your Share Next week
Remember, no promises!
- Head Lettuce
- Acorn squash
- Pie Pumpkin
- Romanesco cauliflower?
Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.
For recipes and ideas, check out these links:
Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites
Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient
A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients
A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient
A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes