By now some of you have opened up this week’s tote to encounter some beets, carrots, leeks, lettuce, celery, broccoli, a psychedelic head of romanesco, and yes, some very ugly butternut squash. For some mysterious reason this year, most of our butternut squash developed a bizarre skin blemish while they were curing in the barn. It appears as dark brown splotches, some with concentric rings that are reminiscent of a topographic map. We often see this blemish on a small percentage of our butternuts at harvest, and we carefully sort out the ugly ones for our own consumption. All the pretty, perfect squash are saved for you.
But I was shocked to discover last week that after 10 days of curing in our barn, all of the pretty, perfect squash were no longer so pretty. It would be absolutely heartbreaking if all those butternuts were destined for stores or restaurants (we couldn’t sell something that looked like that!), BUT I quickly realized that if the eating quality of the squash was good, we could still put the butternuts in your shares this week and explain the problem to all of you in this newsletter. One more reason to extoll the virtues of community supported agriculture: it gives us the chance to communicate with you about farm realities and surprises like this one. And hopefully convince you that this week’s squash is not too ugly to eat!
We’ve cut into dozens of the blemished squash, targeting the worst, and so far it seems like the problem is only skin deep. At least for now. That said, I doubt this crop of butternuts is going to store for very long, so I’d encourage you to cook them sooner than later. Also, if you do get a butternut that is bad inside, PLEASE tell us! Not only do we want to know, but we will replace it for you – either with another butternut, or another kind of squash.
As for enjoying your butternuts, they are the go-to squash for soup-making, due to their smooth texture and wonderful flavor. They’re also the easiest to peel and have a small seed cavity – meaning it’s mostly all squash meat in there. Best to peel your squash either with a knife or a sharp, heavy peeler; cube it up; then either roast or steam it. If you’re making soup, you can go ahead and cook it directly in a pot of stock or water. Cooked butternut squash – whether roasted or steamed – is a great thing to put in your freezer. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat your butternuts in the next couple of weeks, I’d suggest you do this. We roasted all the uglies last winter, froze them in ziplocs, and then had roasted butternut puree on hand all year for soup, and more recently, baby food! I froze a bunch of roasted butternut in ice cube trays, then popped them into a freezer bag. We thaw out a couple of cubes every few days for Cleo’s lunch.
I am sorry that you’re not getting perfect beautiful, butternuts this year. We have a little mantra on the farm: that everything we do has to be at least 51% art. Aesthetics matter to us, and these butternuts don’t make the grade in our book. But they do taste good.
And I suppose after all, real beauty if more than skin deep…
In your share this week:
- Head Lettuce
- Butternut Squash
Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.
For many CSA members, this is the vegetable they wait all year for. Neon green, spiraled minarets, an amazing example of fractals in nature. It’s basically a cauliflower on acid. It has a wonderful, nutty flavor, great steamed or sautéed or roasted in the oven with olive oil and sea salt. I’ve had people tell me that they never actually ate their romanesco; instead they kept it on the counter and took photographs of it. I’d say, do both!
Farm Fact of the Week
Frost! Our lower pasture was nipped with white this morning, right on time! We typically expect the first frost sometime around Halloween and it’s great when it actually comes. A frost works wonders to bring out the sweetness in fall crops like kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and root crops. Freezing temperatures signal these plants to start producing more sugars, which act like antifreeze in the cells of the plant. For the plants it’s a winter survival mechanism. For us, it’s a lovely bonus as we head into the months when kale is our staple green.