Winter Squash

Winter Squash is a highly nutritious and alkaline food which rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants.

Varieties of Winter Squash include Butternut, Acorn, Delicata, Kabocha, Kuri, Buttercup, Spaghetti, Hubbard, Golden Nugget, and Sweet Dumpling. Each one is unique. Have some fun trying the different varieties and finding the ones that you love most.

Winter Squash is easy to digest and is an excellent remedy for acidosis and conditions of the stomach, spleen, liver, and blood.

It is wonderfully high in Vitamins A, E, C, B-complex, and beta carotene, iron, zinc, copper, calcium, and potassium which are vital for a healthy and strong immune and nervous system.

The carotenoids are especially beneficial for protection against heart disease, breast cancer, and macular degeneration.

Winter Squash is also known to help reduce inflammation which is excellent for conditions such as asthma, fibromyalgia, and arthritis. It is a low in calorie, fat-free food, yet it is rich in nutrients making it an ideal choice for any weight loss or nutritional program.

Winter Squash can be eaten savory with spices such as black pepper, curry powder, or chili pepper, or it can be sweetened with a touch of maple syrup or honey with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg for a delicious treat.

It’s creamy and comforting qualities can help satisfy a variety of cravings while still properly nourishing the body and soul.

Grandma’s squash pies laced with cinnamon and ginger are tasty, and newer trends in winter squash cuisine favor savory risottos and creamy, squash-stuffed ravioli.

Sage is a great accent herb for winter squash, and some cooks brush maple syrup or honey onto chunks of baked (or grilled) squash to create a caramel glaze.

Winter Squash can be steamed, baked, roasted, mashed like potatoes, or blended into a soup.

The seeds of winter squash are also edible and can be dried or roasted similarly to pumpkin seeds and are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids such as tryptophan which helps to promote a healthy night’s sleep.

Growing

In spring, sow seeds in prepared beds or hills after your last frost has passed, or sow them indoors under bright fluorescent lights.

Squash is temperature sensitive so you want to plant them when the threat of frost is over and also for when temperatures may get too hot.

Set out seedlings when they are about three weeks old. In Zone 6 and warmer, you can plant more winter squash in early summer.

Winter squash grows best in warm conditions, in fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5.

Choose a sunny site and prepare 3-foot-wide planting hills within wide rows, or position them along your garden’s edge. Water well.

Fruits are ripe if you cannot easily pierce the rind with your fingernail.

Never rush to harvest winter squash, though, because immature fruits won’t store well.

 

Allow fruits to ripen until the vines begin to die back. Expect to harvest three to five squash per plant.

Use pruning shears to cut fruits from the vine, leaving 1 inch of stem attached. Clean away dirt with a soft, damp cloth.

Allow fruits to cure for two weeks in a spot that’s 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Store cured squash in a cool, dry place, such as your basement, a cool closet or even under your bed. Check every two weeks for signs of spoilage.

If you harvest your winter squash after the fruits have fully matured, saving seeds is simply a matter of rinsing, drying and storing the biggest, plumpest seeds that come across your cutting board.

 

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2 comments

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