Archive for the ‘Storage & Cooking Info’ Category

From:  http://whatscookingamerica.net/squash.htm

 The term “summer” and “winter” for squash are only based on current usage, not on actuality. “Summer” types are on the market all winter; and “winter” types are on the markets in the late summer and fall, as well as winter. Thus, the terms “summer” and “winter” are deceptive and confusing. This terminology was never meant to confuse – it just dates back to a time when the seasons were more crucial to man’s survival than they are now. “Good keepers” became known as winter vegetables if they would “keep” until December.

Winter squash comes in shapes round and elongated, scalloped and pear-shaped with flesh that ranges from golden-yellow to brilliant orange. Most winter squashes are vine-type plants whose fruits are harvested when fully mature. They take longer to mature than summer squash (3 months or more) and are best harvested once the cool weather of fall sets in. They can be stored for months in a cool basement-hence the name “winter” squash. Stay away from pumpkin pumpkins, whether they’re the classic field type or the original French variety. Carve them, but don’t eat them: they’re tough and bland.


  • 1/3 to 1/2 pound raw unpeeled squash = 1 serving
  • 1 pound peeled squash = 1 cup cooked, mashed
  • 2-1/2 pounds whole squash = 2-3/4 to 3 cups pureed
  • 1 pound trimmed squash = 2 cups cooked pieces
  • 1 pound squash = 2 to 3 servings
  • 12 ounces frozen squash = 1-1/2 cups
  • 1 medium-size (15 to 20 pounds) pumpkin = 5 to 7 quarts of cooked pumpkin.

To Store

  • Place whole winter squash on top of thick pads of newspapers in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location, preferably between 45 and 50 degrees F. Check on a regular basis for rot and use within three to six months depending on variety of squash.
  • Refrigerate tightly wrapped cut pieces of winter squash, such as banana, and use within 5 days.
  • Once a squash is cooked (by steaming or baking), the flesh of the squash can be stored frozen until needed.

  To Prepare and Use Squash

  • Look for squash that feels heavy for its size and has hard, deep-colored skin free from blemishes.
  • All varieties are great for puréeing, roasting and baking. Once squash is cooked and mashed, it can be used in soups, main dishes, vegetable side dishes, even breads, muffins, custards and pies.

Summer Squash

  • Thoroughly scrub each squash under running water until the skin feels clean. The cut off and discard the stem end and scrape off the other end. Only if the skin is unusually tough or the surface feels especially gritty after washing, is it necessary to peel the squash. Most summer squash is now ready to be used in any recipe.
  • Depending on your recipe, you may grate, slice, or cut into pieces of various shapes.
  • To steam summer squash: Arrange the slices/pieces of squash in a strainer or rack over 1/2-inch of boiling water. Cover and steam just until barely tender. Remove from heat and drain well. Toss with melted butter or your favorite sauce.
  • To saute: Cook in butter over medium-high heat until barely tender. Season with herbs of your choice, salt, and pepper.

Winter Squash

  • Winter squash matures on the vine and develops an inedible, thick, hard rind and tough seeds. Winter squash can be cut in halves or pieces.
  • Dress any cooked winter squash with butter and herbs, a cream sauce, cheese sauce, maple syrup and nuts, marinara sauce or stewed fruit.
  • Squash pulp is also used for pies and may be prepared in casseroles, soufflés, pancakes, and custards.
  • Preparing Squash: Too cook them, first remove fibers and seeds. Wash the exterior of the squash just before using. The seeds are scooped out before or after cooking. Then bake, steam, or boil the squash.
  • Using Water When Cooking Squash: When water is used in cooking the squash, the quantity of water should be kept small to avoid losing flavor and nutrients.
  • Peeling Squash:  Because this rind makes most squash difficult to peel, it’s easier to cook the unpeeled squash, and then scoop out the cooked flesh.
  • Cutting Squash: Acorn and butternut squash are frequently cut in half, baked, and served in the shell. To cut in half, grasp the squash firmly and use a sharp knife to slice through to the center. Then flip and cut the other side until the squash falls open. Remove and discard the seeds.
  • To Bake: Using a whole (1 to 1 1/2 pound) winter squash, pierce the rind with a fork and bake in a 350-degree oven 45 minutes. (OR—from jess—cut in half and place cut side down in a pan of water about a ¼- ½ inch deep to keep the squash from drying out.)
  • Boil or Steam: Cut into quarters or rings 25 minutes or until tender. Boil or mash winter squash just as you would potatoes. Or add peeled squash cubes to your favorite soups, stews, beans, gratins and vegetable ragouts.
  • To Microwave: Place halves or quarters, cut side down, in a shallow dish; add 1/4 cup water. Cover tightly and microwave on HIGH 6 minutes per pound. Whole Squash – Poke squash all over with a fork. Microwave the squash at full power (High) approximately 5 to 10 minutes (depending on size of squash).
  • Testing Squash for Doneness: Test for doneness by piercing with a fork. Fork should easily pierce peel and flesh. Let sit until cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds (if needed), and proceed with recipe or eat.

Freezing Summer Squash (Cocozelle, Crookneck, Pattypan, Straightneck, White Scallop, Zucchini):

  • Choose young squash with tender skin.
  • Wash and cut in 1/2-inch slices. Water blanch 3 minutes. Cool promptly, drain and package, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal and freeze.
  • Grated Zucchini (for Baking) – Choose young tender zucchini. Wash and grate. Steam blanch in small quantities 1 to 2 minutes until translucent. Pack in measured amounts into containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool by placing the containers in cold water. Seal and freeze.
  • If watery when thawed, discard the liquid before using the zucchini.

 Freezing Winter Squash:

  • Choose firm, well-shaped squash that are heavy for their size and have a hard, tough skin. Do not choose those that have sunken or moldy spots. Avoid squash with cuts or punctures in the skin. Also, slight variations in skin color do not affect flavor. A tender rind indicates immaturity, which is a sign of poor quality in winter squash varieties.
  • Wash and cut squash into small pieces, remove seeds and peel. Cook until soft. Mash pulp or put through sieve. (or—just freeze chunks of squash)
  • Cool by placing pan containing squash over crushed ice and stir until cool. Place in an appropriate freeze bag, or container, with 1/2″ headspace; freeze.

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Natural History

Kohlrabi is a relatively unknown vegetable in our country. In the 19th century, it was grown here as cattle feed. In regions such as Holland, Germany, central Europe, Israel, China, and India, kohlrabi is much more valued.

“Distinctive looking” is a mild way to describe the appearance of kohlrabi. Some people call it “sputnik” or “the alien vegetable.” It consists of a ball-shaped bulb, which is actually a swollen part of the stem (not the root), and leaves that jut out of the bulb on all sides. The bulb is crispy, much like a juicy apple. The flavor is sweet and unique, sometimes compared to a combination of its cousins in the Brassica family: turnips, cauliflower, and broccoli.

Kohlrabi shares many of the nutritional characteristics of broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower—its cousins in the Brassica family of vegetables. Anti-cancer phytochemicals are of particular note, and are not destroyed by cooking. Vitamin C is also on top of the nutrient list, as is potassium. One cup of kohlrabi has only 36 calories, and about five grams of fiber.

Kohlrabi is traditionally considered a fall vegetable, but it is good any time! It is especially at its best when it is smaller—young and tender. These younger kohlrabi don’t need to be peeled, but the larger, older bulbs do. There are several different varieties of kohlrabi, and they can be separated into two basic groups: Purple and White. The white kohlrabi are actually a beautiful pale shade of green. The purple kohlrabi are just as gorgeous!

Look for firm bulbs that are unblemished and have fresh looking leaves. If you are storing kohlrabi in the fridge, it’s a good idea to remove the leaves (but keep them for eating!) because they will leach moisture from the bulb. The leaves are tender and will do well in stir-fries or salads. Use them in soups or stews like you would spinach or kale. The leaves can also be fried in a little oil with mustard seeds, garlic, and ginger. To use the bulb, peel the outer layer of skin off larger sized bulbs, but eat the smaller young blubs as-is. Consider the following ideas:

General Cooking Ideas
Raw:  Simply peel the outer layer of skin off (if necessary) with a vegetable peeler and shave it raw over a salad. Combining it with a mellow-flavored lettuce like iceberg, Boston, or romaine and a dressing made with an aggressive vinegar like balsamic or red wine makes an unusual salad. Or toss thinly sliced kohlrabi with finely chopped red onion, some capers and lamb’s lettuce.

Sautéed:  Cut it into thick batons, sauté in butter until slightly softened, tip in a good slug of white wine or chicken stock, and simmer until tender; before serving, stir in some chopped dill or tarragon, and serve alongside a roast.

Steamed:  For a great little side dish to go with grilled chops or oily fish, peel the kohlrabi, cut it into cubes, then steam these lightly until just tender and dress simply with melted butter or olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkling of chopped parsley, a bit of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Stuffed:  Larger bulbs are quite good stuffed—cut a bit off the base, so it stands flat, and hollow out the insides, leaving thickish shells. Steam or boil for about eight minutes, then fill with a mixture of well-seasoned minced pork and cooked rice. Pop the stuffed veg in a roasting tin with a little stock, and bake in a hot oven for 25-30 minutes.

Quick Stovetop Braise:  Peel and slice the kohlrabi into wedges like an orange. Sauté them lightly in olive oil and then add some water. Cover and cook them until they are tender when pierced with tip of a knife. A squirt of lemon juice and this is a delicious companion for grilled pork chops or fresh salmon.

Oven Roasted:  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Peel and cut the bulbs into thick slices and arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season them with salt and pepper and dot them with either butter or olive oil. Pour a little orange juice in the bottom of the pan and place the tray in the center of the oven. Cook until tender, adding more orange juice if needed. Alternatively, place the slices in the bottom of a roasting pan underneath a roast beef or chicken so the vegetable gets cooked with the drippings of the meat.

Boiled:  Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add salt to taste and slices of peeled Kohlrabi. Cook until tender, drain thoroughly and toss directly into a bowl with a sherry or rice wine vinaigrette. Use this opportunity to marinate the kohlrabi overnight in the bowl, if desired, and add some freshly chopped parsley or chives before serving cold (or heated up) the next day. 

Fall Vegetable Mix:  Try a vegetable that you don’t eat often! Cut a few peeled turnips (or peeled rutabaga), a few whole red radishes and some peeled celery root (or parsley root) or peeled squash into relatively similar-sized pieces. Toss together with salt and pepper and roast them all together in the oven together with a touch of sea salt, ground pepper, and a sprinkle of sugar. Roast until tender and serve as a side dish. Alternatively, roast until “mushy” and purée with a vegetable stock or cream to make an interesting soup.

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Fava beans are an Italian favorite, but most of “the rest of us” can enjoy them too!***  They are a little bit of work, but well worth the effort.  First, boil fava beans in the pod for about ten minutes.  Then, dunk them in cold water.  Open the pods and remove the beans by using your thumb to slip them out, much like you would for shell peas.  The beans themselves have a seedcoat, and larger beans must be slipped out of this coating.  Look for a green spot at one end of the bean.  Nick the opposite end of the seed coat with your thumbnail, and while holding the bean at the green end, squeeze gently and pop out the green bean. 

They are ready to eat!  The flavor of fava beans is described as subtle and delicate, green and silky.  The boiled beans can be dressed with olive oil and fleur de sel (a type of sea salt).  Or, saute them with olive oil, scallions, garlic, and herbs.  Oregano, thyme, rosemary, or savory are excellent pairings.  They also go well with pancetta or pecorino cheese.

Dried fava beans should be soaked overnight, then simmered in unsalted water for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

***Some people, usually of Mediterranean descent, can not break down fava beans.  They lack the proper enzyme.  Reactions can be severe, so if you are Mediterranean, consider being tested for “favism.”  Until then, don’t eat favas! 

Literature Sources:  The Organic Cook’s Bible, by Jeff Cox

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adapted from:  Asparagus to Zucchini, by MACSAC

The term “greens” refers to the more common cooking greens, such as arugula, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach, and radish tops.  They can be used interchangeably.  “Salad Greens” refers to greens that are usually eaten raw.  Kale, chard, and spinach are specific tags. 

Most garden greens are cool-weather plants, and will usually be found in the spring and fall CSA shares.  Eat your greens!  They are packed with nutrients, low in calories, high in fiber, and renown for their roles in disease prevention.  Each variety of greens has it’s own flavor–some spicy, some mild.  Get to know them. 

COOKING:  Wash your greens before cooking to remove any garden grit. 

Be careful not to overcook.  They’ll be mushy, tastless, and significantly reduced in nutrition. 

Remember that as greens cook, they lose volume.  They will be 1/4 to 1/8 their original volume. 

Boil greens for 3-5 minutes.  Or, steam greens for 8-10 minutes, depending on maturity and toughness of green. 

As you cook the greens, watch for the color of the greens to brighten.  This signals that cooking is complete, or nearly complete.  When overcooked, colors are dark and faded.

***The most typical method to cook greens:  In a large skillet, heat 1/2 inch of water to boiling.  Add greens and heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to medium-high and cook until stems are almost tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain well.  Wipe skillet dry.  In same skillet, cook som chopped garlic in olive oil until golden.  Stir in the cooked greens, and heat through.  Season with salt and pepper.

Saute baby greens, and stir-fry larger greens.  Add them toward the end of the cooking time.  Two to five minutes is usually enough.

Milder greens are:  spinach, chard, collards, beet greens, kale.  Spicier greens are:  turnip, mustard, arugula, radish.  They are interchangeable, but the pungency will vary.

Add to burritios, sandwiches, soups, stews, omelets, quiches, lasagna, casseroles.  Or, serve simply as “greens”:  top with some butter, or just eat them plain.  Or, toss with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Or, toss with sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce.  Or, toss iwth a lemon vinaigrette.

Raw salads are always great too!

STORAGE:  Store preferably unwashed, wrapped in damp towel or plastic bag in the hydrator drawer of the refrigerator.  Best used very fresh, but may last for up to a week. 

For long term storage, freeze greens.  Blanch washed greens for 2-3 minutes.  Rinse n cold water to stop the cooking, drain, and pack into airtight containers.  Freeze.

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(adapted from Asparagus to Zucchini, by MACSAC)

Leeks are related to onions, garlic, scallions, chives, shallots, and lilies.  Unlike onions, leeks won’t cause you to well up with tears!  They are much more subtle in flavor, too.  Leeks are thought to have originated specifically in Egypt, and in general are native to the Mediterranean area.  They have been used in Europe and the British Isles for centuries, and are particularly esteemed in France and Wales.  Leeks are usually available from midsummer through late fall and winter.  In some cases, leeks are overwintered to become a spring crop. 

CLEANING:  Remove the green tops to within about two inches of the white section.  Peel off the outside layer, then cut the leek in half lengthwise.  Wash under water to remove the grit and soil that is trapped between the layers. 

EATING:  Leeks are versatile.  Eat them raw (chop into a salad).  Cook them whole (braise or bake).  You can steam or boil them for 10-12 minutes, then top them with butter, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.  Layer thin slices in a sandwich (grilled cheese with leek and tomato is a good combo).  Leeks can be lightly sauteed alone or with other veggies.  They are excellent when added to quiches, egg dishes, casseroles, stews, stocks, soups, and stir-fries.  Add to mashed potatoes, and substitute leeks for onions.  Leeks can be pureed to make classic potato leek soup.  Leaves can be eaten as well–add them beans or stews or grains (things that take a while to cook, so that the leaves soften). 

STORAGE:  Leeks can be refrigerated for about two weeks if they are NOT washed, and are dry.  Wrap them lightly in plastic wrap.  If you’d like to store them longer, pack them into moist sand and keep in a cool (not freezing) location.

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from: Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition

Cooking Tips:

  • Use with other herbs to make Italian seasoning
  • Use to make herb butter or add to melted butter for frying veggies
  • A perfect complement to tomato dishes
  • Add to vinegar for herbal vinegar
  • Flower heads are edible
  • Pairs well with basil


Wrap in slightly dampened cloth and store in refrigerator, or store dry in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Leaves can be left on the stem and dried.
Dry in a dehydrator, or hang upside down in a dry, dark, airy place.

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