How to store and enjoy Uncle David's Dakota Dessert squash

You harvested your squash! YAY, YOU! Now... how do you store it to maximize its 'shelf life' and its sweetness? 

If your goal is to store squash well into the winter months, squash in the Cucurbita maxima family are generally the best keepers. Luckily, Uncle David’s is a Cucurbita maxima-- it stores well and will be a wonderful addition to your holiday table-- both as a delish side dish AND playing the starring role in your PUMPKIN PIE! (YES!  The recipe is below!)

BUT I am getting ahead of myself-- Let me back up a bit!  

A very important-- and often missed step-- is letting the fruits fully cure after harvest. To do this, simply keep your squash in a warm, dry location for a month-- 70- 80 degrees during the day. For us this is normally in the garage, which is attached to the main farmhouse… DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

IF your squash cooks up dry, it is likely not fully cured—it hasn’t been held in a warm enough location for long enough. During this 'curing' process don't let the fruits get cold—ideally, keep the temperature from falling below 50 degrees. 

Right about now-- toward the end of October or beginning of November-- when the nights are getting too cold for our garage to stay above 50 degrees, we transfer the squash from the garage to their winter storage room in the basement. 

The best conditions for storing and keeping winter squash is at about 50-55°F with 70-75% relative humidity and good air circulation. 

We closely monitor our ‘squash stash’ for any signs of breakdown; if any are found we immediately cook those up to prevent waste. Check OFTEN and THOROUGHLY!

Make sure to carefully remove any areas showing signs of rot before baking or steaming. If any rot reaches the seed cavity, discard the whole fruit; it is beyond saving!  Painful lesson—I KNOW! A reminder to check OFTEN and catch them early!

We cook our squash from November through February. We freeze any excess for use in the spring and early summer months. That way you will never run out of squash to enjoy! 

Don't forget to save your squash seeds for roasting!  

Roasted Squash Seeds-- How To! 
  • After scrapping the seed from the seed cavity, just pinch the mature, plump seeds from the flesh into a strainer. 
  • Rinse with warm water, gently rubbing the seeds clean. 
  • Place in small dish to soak with 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 a tsp of salt; let stand for 15 minutes. (This step is optional but I have found the added saltiness that soaks into the seeds to be very tasty!)
  • Drain, coat with 1-2 tsps olive oil, lightly sprinkle with salt, and roast at 275-300 degrees for 15-20 minutes until lightly toasted. 
AND NOW… DA-TA-DA-DAH!! 
The recipe no holiday table should be without….

Uncle David’s Dakota Dessert 'Pumpkin' Pie

 Ingredients

  • 2 cups Uncle David’s Dakota Dessert squash
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 5-ounce can (2/3 cup) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup milk

Pie crust for a single pie

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons cold water

 Steps

    • Preheat oven to 375F. Place oven rack in center of oven.

For Pie Crust:

    • Stir together flour and salt. 
    • Cut in butter until pieces are the size of small peas.
    • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of water at a time; gently toss to moisten.
    • Repeat until moistened and you can form a ball of dough.
    • Place on a floured surface to roll.
    • Transfer crust into your pie plate and flute the edge.

For Filling:

    • Combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon ginger, nutmeg. 
    • Add eggs.  Beat lightly with rotary beater or fork. 
    • Gradually stir in evaporated milk and milk.  Mix well.
    • Place a pastry-lined 9-inch pie plate on the oven rack; pour in filling.  
    • Cover edge with foil.  
    • Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.
    •  Remove foil; bake for 25 minutes more or till a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  
    • Cool on a wire rack.  
    • Serve with whipped cream, if desired.  
    • Cover and chill to store. 
    • 8 servings.

ENJOY! 

Our best to you,

Theresa & Dan