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Cooking - Winter Squash Trials
Winter Squash Trials

Musquee de Provence, Dec 2 2017

Baked slices of a 16 lb Fairytale pumpkin. Very soft flesh compared to kabocha or even butternut.
Flesh is different color of bright reddish orange. It's like cutting open a cantaloupe.
Very watery squash - 50% water content (at least).
Stringy. Should be blended but is soft enough to be okay without blending.

Taste: sweet and ideal for baking and dessert. Smells strongly of raspberry and vanilla. One of the best smelling pumpkins to bake.
Made a pie with straight Fairytale. It tasted strongly like carrots. Personally I prefer to mix squash, especially this one for a pie to disguise the fresh squash flavour. With this Fairytale variety alone, the pie just tasted like squash. -2017

Thought this one was an overgrown and very ripe delicata. It was yellow with orange stripes, though 3 times larger than delicata, and more of a round shape, closer to spaghetti. The cashier called it a spaghetti. There was no sticker to say what it was.

When we got it home we cut it in half and baked one half, cut side down on a tray at ~350 for 3 hours. The exposed flesh had dried and formed a skin-like texture. When poked, it was soft and broke into strands. It definitely smelled like delicata, and tasted a bit like it, though the flesh was a much lighter colour. It didnt make any juice while cooking, as most other squash do. The shell is unusually hard.

At this point I looked up how to bake a stripetti. Most recipes recommend to bake the squash cut in half, cut side down in an inch of water. They also bake for 40-60 minutes.

We put the squash back in the oven with a half inch of water in the pan.

On another day, we mixed baked Stripetti squash with a cup or two of ground almonds, some cocoa powder and an egg and baked it, which we instantly concluded that this is the single best use for Stripetti squash, ever. As much as we were dissapointed by Stripetti in other recipes, we were impressed by its subtle honey flavour and just-moist-enough flesh for this brownie recipe.

kabocha

Fine grained, doesn't need to be blended. Makes very little water, meaning it doesn't have to be drained before using in the pie recipe.
To get juice from this squash, boil the fleshy pulp from the inside cavity. Just letting the pulp, seeds and all soak in water lets the juices come out.
Very delicious flesh and syrup. Easy, convenient preparation.

Bought a squash labelled Kabocha today for $0.50. It had a withered, slightly brown spot and a small hole on the other side.
When cut open, it smelled strongly like cucumber, and the flesh was yellow with green close to the rind. Many of the seeds were immature, and the inside pulp was very dry.
We baked this squash for over an hour between 350 and 300 F. The cooked flesh has a taste like doughnuts, or buttery croissants.
The flesh was not easy to get out, and might have been better cooked longer.

Ontario acorn squash

Ontario Acorn:

In late November we got loads of Ontario acorn squash from a local grocery store for about $0.25 /lb. They were unlike the usual acorn squash, the size and shape of these is more round and smooth, with pumpkin-like big ribs. They were also big and heavy for an acorn, easily being the weight of two or three of the usual acorns.

This squash did not have the typical yellow flesh of acorns. It's flesh was pale orange and thick, not very fibrous. Made excellent pie, used half acorn and half buttercup for the filling. Turned out perfect. Probably the best acorn we've got so far and will look forward to more next year.

The squash may have been a Reno based on the thickness and colour of the raw flesh.

Delicata

Yellow flesh. Seeds are small and unique round shape, delicious when toasted. Squash does not make liquid when baking. Got about 1/4 c of squash juice from the seed cavity of one squash.

May 2018
Bought 4 delicatas. The older ones had orange stripes, no green at all, and were dry inside when cut open. They baked fine, but tasted much less sweet than other delicatas, making us think that freshly picked delicatas with stripes that are still green may be better for cooking.

July 2018
Made Squash Brownies with delicata from the freezer. They were amazing, by far the best Squash Brownies we've ever had. It is now a favourite.

apr 05, 2018: Just had a big slice of fresh pumpkin pie made with 2/3 of a kabocha and a large slice of fairytale pumpkin. Wow, was that ever different from the last pie made with butternut and kabocha.
From the slice of fairytale we got 1 cup of juice and reduced it to a thick very orange sauce. There was about 2 cups of fairytale pumpkin, which was more than we expected to get. It cost $1.66 for the slice of fairytale.
This orange sauce is very thick. We added gelatin to make it solid, however we did not add enough and it was not as solid as it could be. The flavour is very intense.
The squash flavour is so intense and a bit overwhelming with eating the pie with no dairy. When we added homemade fermented cream, and a splash of table cream, the rich, smooth flavours are complete and leave you feeling very full and very satisfied.

Maxima Stem

A stem bearing a pumpkin is also known as the peduncle; inside this stem attaching the fruit to the plant can be edible. Winter squash Maxima species that we tested such as Buttercup have soft green inside the peduncle for months after harvest and is not just edible but downright tasty when baked.

Moschata stems dry out very quickly and become extremely hard, leaving no green inside at all. These are like sticks of wood and not edible.

Most Pepos we've tested have dried-out woody stems too.
Summer squash might prove to have tasty stems, though.

It's no wonder Squash Vine Borers like to eat pumpkin vines.

Honeynut from HOPE farm

Bought the smallest Honeynut at the store around September 29th, 2018. Baked it the next day and ate it out of the shell with salmon. The flesh was dark, dry, fine-grained and thick like a kabocha or buttercup. Not much at all like a butternut. Very interesting squash considering it's a hybrid of buttercup and butternut. This squash was very sweet, and very tasty. Exactly the rich flavour that goes with salmon. Not much of a real "squashy" taste.

2 weeks later we bought the largest Honeynut at the store. We kept it for another 3 or so weeks in our kitchen. Then we read the seed review for Honeynut, a grower said that they had begun to rot in the field when they turned tan. We suspected ours may be beginning to rot too, and we cut it open. It had just barely started to turn a darker brownish colour next to the seed cavity.

It tasted pretty good, and the squash was fine, but it didn't have the intense flavour of the previous Honeynut. Next time we get a Honeynut we will cook it sooner and report on the flavour.

August 2018
Used Butternut for years and this squash we picked up was different than any other. It arrived cut in half, meaning they had cut our a bad bit and put it on sale for $1.27, a great deal for two squash's worth.
We sliced off a few 2 cm thick round and fried them in a pan with butter. Our favourite way to eat Butternut, after all these years of enjoying it in spicy dishes, is the simplest.
Eager to eat our butter-soaked toasty-brown squash, we took a bite. It was so bland it turned us off completely. We gave the rst of our cooked squash slices to the cat, who ate them eagerly.
The only thing worth doing with bland squash is to make brownies, so we did. When we cut the squash to bake it we could see the Butternut had started to go white in the middle, indicating that it's old. I would guess between 6 months to a year old. The outside was unblemished and an even tone, still gorgeous.
We baked this squash until it was soft. The smell from the oven was of butter roasting, unusual from other times we baked a Butternut. We took the squash out when it was done and still warm, it smelled of a Fairytale pumpkin which was a real surprise as we never smelled that from a Butternut before. The smell is a slight citrusy, very strongly raspberry smell; One that might be similar to baking a raspberry sour cream pie.
We will report if our next Butternut smells like raspberry when baked.
Swan White Acorn

August 10th, 2018: a new shipment of squash has arrived here in Toronto at Sweet Potato. These squash are so new the stems are green and fresh. Today we found a new squash we'd never seen before - a Swan White acorn. They had several of them, a few of them were impressive size. The largest was as big as your head. I weighed it - it said 3 lbs. We think it might not have been accurate, the squash might have been 4 or almost 5 lbs. It was the same size as some of the medium-sized buttercups. As you could see in the photo, the Swan Whites were larger than the green acorns.

We looked up the PLU of this squash: #94752 by Healthy Organic Produce Enterprises (HOPE). The 9 and 5 digits mean the squash is grown organically, which is pretty impressive considering the damage Vine Borers have done to our crop. The farm it's from is actually a community of 30+ farmers in Aylmer, Ontario, between London and Detroit. Oh yeah, and they are Amish. What an honour to get first pick of a unique squash grown by dedicated farmers!

These creamy white acorns were so fresh that they hadn't changed color much at all to the pale tan-yellow color. We don't know how much tan is acheived after the curing process, so it would be nice to get the whitest, freshest acorn and a tanned one and compare. For now we got one that was just starting to show a creamy tan colour on the top. A truly beautiful squash, and the skin has an exceptionally smooth texture unlike other varieties.
HOPE squash farm: link

Baby Boo Pumpkins

We had read disappointing reviews about the taste of Baby Boo, but we saw some at the store and got them to eat. We were pleasantly surprised by the taste, nutty like chestnut and creamy like artichoke. They turned out to be wonderful to eat.

These pumpkins were a litle beat-up, turning yellowish as they do when they are older, and they had a few spots on them.

As we found with Delicata, baking the squash turn the flesh around the blemishes hard, so it doesn't get scooped out and eaten. We found this to be pretty convenient.

Our first batch of 3 Baby Boo pumpkins was stuffed with savoury ingredients and roasted. They were delicious, and had much more flesh than previously thought. They go surprisingly well with cheese, garlic and onion, more so than orange-fleshed squash.

The next time we went to the store we got 4 Baby Boo pumpkins. We love them that much. These ones were just as fantastic. There was only one that had become very slightly bitter due to age.

Buttercup squash, Dec 2 2017

Bought a buttercup squash in fall 2017. It was a green coloured cup with the characteristic turban sticking out, light green with broken dark green stripes and a patch turning yellow-orange on one side. We had originally thought it was a Turban squash. It looked very similar to a buttercup with an actual cup. The seeds set it apart from any kabocha we bought though, almost twice as large and flat and pointed on both ends. Very thick seeds.

We waited a month or two to open it, thinking curing would do it good for the flavour. It turns out that the warts on it were a sign that it's going bad. The warty area had dry flesh turning white. With a closer look some of the warts were too flat to be warts, appearing as flat grey patches.

The rest of the flesh was divine. A unique colour, no strings and thick. The best squash flesh we ever tasted.

Bonus: After baking, the stem fell off revealing a pretty little green star inside the rough bark layer on the end. We took a small knife and knicked a piece of the green inside of the stem. It was soft like cutting into a half-boiled potato. The taste: Amazing. Imagine a fresh green sweet pea sprout but with less chlorophyll taste mixed with biting into fresh buttery baked dough, with a slight sweetness.

The stem tastes better than donuts. We will definitely be tasting more C. maxima stems in the future.

Turban and Honeynut

We had a real turban squash for the first time. It's flavour is very different that other turban-shaped squash. It may be one of the most delicately flavoured squash, in fact. This is especially unique considering turban-shaped squash such as Buttercup usually have intense, sweet flavour.

It isn't very sweet. For sweet dishes such as bakes or pies, a different squash would work better. Might be able to use a combination of Turban with a sweet squash to make a successful pie. This is one thing we may do in the future. Or, it could be just bland enough to use in a Squash Brownie.

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