Homesteading without the Homestead: Winter Squash, a New England Tradition

by Susan Berry. 

For many New Englanders fall just wouldn’t be fall without winter squash, and a favorite of most New Englanders is butternut squash. Being a homesteader, farmer, and horticulturist I not only like to grow butternut squash but I also love to find creative recipes in which to use it.

One of the questions I hear often from home gardeners who are taking the leap from flower beds to growing their own vegetables is, “Can I grow butternut squash?” My response is, “Absolutely!” I believe beginning home gardeners think summer squash is the only squash that can be grown in small gardens, but many varieties of winter squash can be grown in home gardens with limited space. Yes, some winter squash varieties such as blue hubbard, sweet meat, or pumpkins, need very large growing space, but butternut squash is not one of them.

Butternut is suited to so many recipes and methods of cooking. It grows well vertically on a strong trellis constructed out of wood or welded wire fencing.  My butternut this year was planted in a three foot wide by eight foot long row. I planted six plants and harvested twelve squash, the smallest being three pounds and the biggest being seven pounds.

butternut

I grew Waltham Butternut, an heirloom variety.  Typically I would have expected more squash on this amount of plants but we had a strange summer with tons of rain then a heat wave that shocked the plants and slowed things down. I also planted about four weeks later than normal. But all in all I was happy with the amount of squash for my husband and I.

Winter squash like soil rich in organic matter consisting of well composted home compost and aged horse manure. Soil also needs to drain well. I fertilize when I see blooms beginning to form with seaweed and fish emulsion water soluble fertilizer, (2 ounces per gallon of water).  Only fertilize once and the compost rich soil will usually carry the plants through to a productive harvest.

Now to the good part!

Next to eating butternut with my Thanksgiving turkey dinner and butternut squash soup, my absolute favorite recipe to use butternut in is my own recipe,…

squashbread8

Butternut Squash Strudel

Dough:

2 ½ tsp yeast
2 Tbsps warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 C cooked mashed butternut squash (I recommend roasting the squash)
1/3 C warm milk (110-115 degrees)
¼ C butter softened
1 lg egg (room temp)
3 Tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ tsp salt
3-3 ½ C bread flour

Filling:

1 C sugar
2 Tbsps ground cinnamon (blended into sugar)
¼ C melted butter
½ c chopped walnuts
1/3 c raisins

Glaze:

1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
3 Tbsp milk (additional if needed to make glaze consistency)

Bread Machine:

Add ingredients into bread machine in order according to manufacturers instructions.
Set machine to dough cycle only.
Remove from machine and punch down.
Follow assembling instructions below

Hand Method:

In small bowl dissolve yeast in water. In mixing bowl, combine squash, milk, butter, egg, brown sugar and salt. Mix well. Add yeast mixture and 1 ½ C flour; mix well. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto floured surface. Knead until smooth & elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turn over to coat all sides and cover, let rise in warm place until doubled.

Assemble:

Punch down dough. Roll out into an approximately10in x 16in rectangle. Brush with ¼ C melted butter, sprinkle sugar cinnamon mixture over buttered dough. Sprinkle walnuts and raisins evenly over dough.

squashbread5

Starting with long side, roll dough up tightly tucking in short edge as you roll. Carefully twist roll into rope shape. Move to baking sheet and form rope into circle sealing ends together.

squashbread6

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire rack and allow to cool.

Make glaze with powdered sugar cinnamon & nutmeg using milk to make glaze consistency. Drizzle glaze over cooled strudel. Enjoy!

Susan Berry is a Horticulturist/ Farmer and Homesteader.  She and her husband Don live on a ¼ acre aptly named Itzy Bitzy Farm with their two dogs and twelve hens. Susan raises organically grown heirloom asparagus crowns till established at three years old and raspberry plants to sell to home gardeners.  You can follow Itzy Bitzy Farm’s blog by signing up at www.itzybitzyfarm.com

About eSS&SC

The South Shore and South Coast has been home to hunting, gathering, fishing, farming––and great eating––for over 10,000 years. We are committed to identifying, devouring, and sharing all that Southeastern Massachusetts has to offer today and preserving local options for future generations.
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2 Responses to Homesteading without the Homestead: Winter Squash, a New England Tradition

  1. Pingback: Fall Brings a Squash Bounty - The Local Dish

  2. Pingback: What can I do with all of my pumpkins? | James's Recipes

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