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Harvesting and curing butternut squash

Basket of butternut squashThere's nothing that says "first day of autumn" quite like a heaping basket of winter squash!  People obsessed with appearances grow pumpkins, but folks who are attached to flavor grow butternuts.  You can guess which camp I fit into....

You can leave winter squash on the vine until just before the frost, but our wet weather was starting to rot the fruits so I harvested early.  We got an overflowing peach basket full of squash from our four plants, which is a bit low due to vine borers, but not bad.

Unfortunately, I had to cook up over a third of the butternuts immediately due to nicks and rotten spots.  The best way to cook a butternut is to roast it --- slice each squash long ways, scrape out the seeds (don't forget to save some!), and place them cut side down on a baking tray in the oven to roast until soft.  Scoop out the sweet, orange flesh and use it in butternut squash soup or turn it into a pie every bit as tasty as pumpkin pie.  (We may try both of these options this week to use up the nicked fruit.)

The photo above shows the squashes we plan to store for the winter.  I gently rinsed off the mud, cut off bits of vine attached to stems, and will now let the squash cure for a while at room temperature.  The optimal curing period for winter squash is 10 days at a temperature of 80 to 85 F and a humidity of 80 to 85%.  Our humidity will probably fit the bill, but our temperatures have already cooled down so that we'll probably have to cure longer.  After curing, I wouldn't be surprised if our butternut squash feed us all winter --- we gave away a cushaw this month that had been sitting in our kitchen for nearly a year!

Brought to you by our Avian Aqua Miser homemade chicken waterer.


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