Winter squash is not just for Thanksgiving

Ideas for cooking and preserving winter squash.

Michigan winter squash is plentiful right now. Winter squash provides a warm vibrant color on your plate and brings memories of fall and delicious Thanksgiving dinners. But winter squash is not just for Thanksgiving!

Winter squash can be baked and mashed, cut into cubes and added to soups and stews or even mixed with other ingredients to make a tasty vegetable casserole.

Michigan Fresh has an easy recipe for Squash Apple Casserole. Start with one butternut, acorn or Hubbard squash. Cut off the ends of the squash and peel the squash. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds and stringy pulp. Cut the squash pieces into one fourth inch slices. Wash, core and cut two apples such as Granny Smith, Macintosh or Rome apple into quarter inch slices (it is not necessary to peel the apples). Spray a casserole dish with cooking oil spray. Make a thin layer of squash on bottom of casserole dish or pan, Next place thin layer of apples. Repeat layers ending with layer of apples. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon of nutmeg (optional). Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 to 60 minutes or until squash and apples are fork tender.

Winter squash can be preserved by canning or freezing. Freezing squash is simple. Cook the squash until soft by baking, boiling in water or microwaving or steaming. Remove the pulp from the squash and mash. Store in quantities suitable for your household. Use freezer durable storage containers or bags. Label the containers and date them.

Michigan State University Extension educators remind those canning squash that it must be canned in a pressure canner because squash is a low acid food. Rinse with cool water and scrub with a vegetable brush, remove seeds and peel the squash. Cut the flesh into 1 inch cubes. Boil the squash for two minutes in water. Do not mash or puree the squash. Fill jars with the squash cubes, leaving 1 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids and process according to recommended processing times.

Winter squash season is at its peak now! Make plans to enjoy some squash today!

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