The Story of Squash—Fall Squash (AKA Winter Squash)
When Farmer Lee Jones appeared on the Rachael Ray Show, he shared information about his favorite fall vegetables. One of the four he named was the lusciously unforgettable fall squash. As he told Rachael, we pick our squash small at The Chef’s Garden because "if we got them in the garden and we go away for the weekend, we come back and they're the size of a baseball bat!"
Plus, by picking them small—before the plants mature and then die off—they’ll keep producing even more delicious and nutrition fall produce.
Then, what? Farmer Lee likes to cut his fall squash in half or in quarters. “You can,” he added, “even use a mandolin and cut ribbons!” These flavorful ribbons are ideal raw on salads or steamed. As for Rachael, she adores them with mint and parsley and chilis with lime juice and extra virgin olive oil.
Fall squash that’s regeneratively grown with love at The Chef’s Garden is rich with flavor and nutrients, particularly with healthful beta-carotene. If you’re new to our squash (or if you love variety), then we encourage you to try our mixed fall squash. You’ll receive produce that’s a mixture of sweet and intense squash flavors with hues ranging from deep honey to bronze.
Fall Squash Recipes
We know that our cherished chefs create unsurpassed, second to none recipes using our fresh vegetables—and we thought we’d share a few of our own:
Roast Squash with Curried Lentils and Rice
Warm Spinach Fall Harvest Salad
Fall Squash Soup
Fall Squash with Apple Cider Reduction, Sage, and Thyme
We’d love to hear how you use our squash in your unique dishes and menus.
(As an intriguing side note, searches for butternut squash recipes skyrocketed in Canada in 2020, qualifying as one of the most searched-upon food trends.)
Reducetarianism Trend (and Two Others)
As 2022 approaches, we’re watching to food-related predictions and trends—and we have to say that the word “reducetarianism” is a new one for us. That said, the concept isn’t new. Experts are predicting that more people are going to want to approach vegetarianism or veganism without going 100% in, with the goal being to improve their health and to care for the planet—an approach that we’ve been calling “plant-forward.” No matter which term you prefer, fall squash will fit in quite nicely.
We’ve also been hearing about the concept of “vegourmets”—meaning gourmet-style, plant-based meals. As the third trend, zero waste concepts are appearing on lists, which perfectly dovetails with our root-to-tip philosophy and how, at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, eliminating food waste isn’t a trend. It’s a way of life.
Now, back to fall squash!
Health Benefits of Fall Squash
As WebMD.com notes, the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in squash can help to protect people from cancer while improving eye health and enhancing skin health. Because of its vitamin B6, this food may help to protect people from becoming depressed.
Meanwhile, Food and Health notes how, if a squash is orange, then it’s “loaded with vitamin A.” In fact, just a cup of butternut squash provides all the daily vitamin A that a person needs (and more).
Then, according to Harvard’s School of Public Health, squash can help people to manage blood sugar and prevent it from rising after eating and can also counteract the effects of salt on blood pressure, which has a positive impact on heart health.
Is Squash a Fruit or Vegetable?
Nearly 3,000 people a month ask this question on Google. The answer is that, although we typically treat squash as a vegetable and refer to it that way, technically it’s a fruit. Why? Because it carries seeds and comes from a flower. (Here’s more about the incredible squash blossom and the role it has played in the founding of The Chef’s Garden.)
Summer Squash vs. Fall/Winter Squash
Summer varieties come with skins that are soft and typically eaten. Fall/winter squash are hardier outside to survive the season—and those grown at The Chef’s Garden combine the best of both world because, inside, they’re tender and delicious.
We’ll highlight two of our favorites.
Our butternut squash 898 packs a powerful punch of sweet and nutty flavor in tender, juicy flesh. This delightful squash can fit into your palm, offering up intriguing options for your dishes.
Meanwhile, Robin’s Koginut Squash has been described in this way by the Row 7 Seed Company: “an arranged marriage between two of our favorite squash.” Nutty, sweet, and smooth, this hybrid is ideal for a wide range of recipes.
In a predictive piece about 2020, Food and Wine noted how “Squash has been becoming a viable replacement for spaghetti when spiralised or shredded. Now, we've started to see orange-hued pizza crusts cropping up on shelves in the States, along with butternut squash crisps, crackers and pretzels. As well as this, a quick search on Instagram or Pinterest for squash will highlight a multitude of different recipes it can be used in, including brownies, bread, mac and cheese, lasagne and more. . . .so we expect that squash 'noodles' will become infinitely cool this year.”
History of Fall Squash
Wild squash grew in Central America in prehistoric times with its actual origins lost to the mists of time. It’s likely that, eventually, large animals like horses and camels ate it and then spread the seeds wherever they went.
About 15,000 years ago, people began to hollow out the squash and used what remained as vessels. It’s possible that they used them as fishing net floats. About 5,000 years later, people in Central America intentionally began growing domesticated squash.
Then, about 5,000 years ago, people began to eat squash in Peru. They planted the squash by beans and corn: the Three Sisters of agriculture. The corn supported the beans while squash managed the weeds and helped to prevent water evaporation.
A couple of thousand years ago, Native Americans grew squash in today’s Arizona, and then the agricultural practice spread northward. When people from England migrated to the east coast of today’s United States, the Library of Congress notes that they weren’t interested in the squash, including pumpkins, that the Native Americans in the region were eating.
When a particularly harsh winter hit, the immigrants added them to their diet, baking them and moistening and flavoring them with “animal fat, maple syrup, and honey.” For pie, the Pilgrims hollowed out a type of squash (pumpkin) and then filled it with milk, apples, sugar, and spices before replacing the stem and baking this delicious dessert.
In 1796, Amelia Simmons published American Cookery with this cookbook including a recipe for pumpkin pie.
If you’ve read our blog posts for any length of time, you already know how we grow vegetables slowly and gently in full accord with nature. You’ve read our news about how independent testing has verified that our crops have up to 500% more in mineral content than the USDA baselines.
You may know that, because of our agricultural research lab, we continue to learn and improve. For example, we began using cover crops (more about them in a moment) decades ago—but we only used rye. We then realized that diversity in cover crops matters, which means we’d now use four to six species in a field at any one time. We realized that using cover crop seed from our own farm improved our process even more because our cover crops automatically have an affinity for their environment.
Now here’s more about how we use cover crops in our slow-grow methodologies. Two thirds of our fields, at any one time, contain cover crops instead of produce that we’ll sell. We allow the diverse cover crops to grow for a brief period before gently working them into the soil. This accomplishes two purposes: feeding the soil and controlling weeds.
This isn’t a one-and-done process. In fact, we’ll repeat it as many times as needed. After we’re fully satisfied that the cover crops did their jobs, we’ll lay out vegetable beds. Then, rather than doing a quick chemical pour, we’ll sit back and allow the weeds to germinate.
Think about that for moment. We’ll sit back and allow the weeds to germinate. That doesn’t sound like conventional farming, now, does it?
Then, before weeds have time to emerge, we shallowly till the ground to disturb weed hairs. This allows them to quickly dry out with the wind doing the rest. Our farm team repeats this process, as well, as many times as required.
The ultimate result? Healthy soil . . . healthy crops . . . healthy people . . . healthy planet.
In other words, from the planet to the plate: that’s the power of regenerative farming.
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