Pumpkins store best above 60 F, coated in a light layer of oil. (Mary Lowther photo)

Column Dig In: Squash, pumpkins make excellent winter food

Gardeners shine during winter, producing food from seemingly nowhere.

By Mary Lowther

Gardeners shine during winter, producing food from seemingly nowhere.

The growing season disappeared with the geese so what we eat until spring depends on how much effort we have put into preparing for winter. We can harvest turnips, Brussels sprouts, Daikon radishes, leeks and kale all winter if we sowed them last spring and fall, as long as the slugs hibernate.

In warmer Victoria I had a lovely stand of kale that looked like it would sustain us through the winter until January arrived and the slugs took over. In about a week all that was left was a bed of stems and they ate all my overwintering onions too. David would say that if they were so desperate to eat the kale, then onions would certainly be on the menu. We are lucky here where winters are usually too cold for even the staunchest slug to venture forth and multiply. So far.

Steller’s jays, I read recently, have fled their normal mountain habitat this winter for lack of food and have been slumming around Victoria and other settlements. And here I thought we had more jays because I was feeding them. Maybe next spring will see a decrease in slug populations since Steller’s jays eat their eggs.

If we plan our menus around our supply, we can impress our families right up until fresh crops appear next spring. I have three small pumpkins harvested late September awaiting my favourite recipes and a few new ones I’d like to try. I learned the hard way that winter squash, like pumpkins, keep better around 60 F than in a cold pantry. I wipe off the squash after picking it, dry it off and allow it to stand in the sun for a week to 10 days for it to develop a hard rind. I smear vegetable oil on the outside, re-coating with oil as needed when in storage, as I’ve learned that oil helps to preserve the squash. My pumpkins were green when I picked them and now they are gradually turning orange. I’ll be making pumpkin scones, muffins and soup, but my best recipe is for Pumpkin Chiffon Pie which I intend to take to a family dinner two weeks hence. Here’s the recipe:

Prepare the pumpkin (or any other squash): Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, brush the cut surfaces with vegetable oil and bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes or until it is easily pierced with a fork. Cool the pumpkin and scoop out the flesh. Blend in a blender or mash with a potato masher until pureed. Drain in a sieve, saving the liquid for soup, and measure out 1 ¼ cups of the drained puree for the recipe.

The Pie:

9 inch baked pastry shell

½ tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp gelatin

½ tsp nutmeg

½ cup cold water

1 ¼ cup mashed pumpkin

½ cup brown sugar

3 egg yolks, beaten

½ cup milk

½ tsp salt

3 egg whites

½ tsp ginger

¼ cup sugar

whipped cream for garnish

Soften gelatin in water and let it stand. Combine brown sugar, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, egg yolks and milk in top of double boiler. Cook slowly over medium heat until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and beat in gelatin mixture until thoroughly dissolved. Place saucepan in pan of cold water until mixture mounds slightly. Beat egg whites and sugar until stiff. Carefully fold into pumpkin mixture. Pour into cooked piecrust. Chill. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Just Posted

Woman speaks out after alleged sexual assault at Duncan Walmart

Allegations launched against man with ties to Ladysmith community

Mary Lowther column: Figuring out fermentation

I bought the book The Plant Paradox on the recommendation of a friend

Island Foreign Trade Zone designation explained at VIEA Summit

A significant step towards balancing and diversifying our Island economy.

Cowichan Capitals struggle on Interior road trip

Penalties plague Caps, who return home this weekend

Trauma-focused yoga program comes to Duncan

The Reaching Out With Yoga project is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

Coming up in Cowichan: Pair of Mill Bay Marine Rescue Society fundraisers

Fall Fishing Derby will benefit Mill Bay Marine Search and Rescue Mill… Continue reading

Cowichan Coffee Time

Chain of Love and Lake to Lake Walk

Jets score 3 late goals to beat Canucks 4-1

Winnipeg ends three-game Vancouver win streak

San Group announces plans to build new sawmill in Port Alberni

San Group has purchased 25 acres of Catalyst Paper land for expansion

Shots fired at Vancouver Island house during fight

Shots were fired at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday in 500 block of Kennedy Street, say Nanaimo RCMP

Two B.C. cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Port Alberni dispensaries ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

Canada not sending anyone to Saudi business summit

Sources insist Ottawa never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around

Earthquake early-warning sensors installed off coast of B.C.

The first-of-its kind warning sensors are developed by Ocean Networks Canada

Most Read