Monday, July 26, 2010

B is for Butternut Squash

When I first started making baby food, I didn't own a steamer basket or know what butternut squash looked like so here is a picture of it. B squash is very unassuming, ugly almost but the flesh inside is a beautiful shade of orange. The flavor is like most hard winter squashes, slightly nutty and earthy. I love it still - I would take mashed squash over mashed potatoes any day!

I have tried all sorts of cooking methods for this squash and finally found one that is relatively easy - actually easier than apples. Rinse off the outer skin then set the squash on its side on a cutting board that isn't going to move on you. Take your really wicked (read: large and sharp) bread knife and cut off both ends, then in half crosswise. Scoop out the seeds in the bottom half. Now set one half on its cut end and quarter lengthwise. Do this to both halves and now you have eight pieces. If you got a smaller squash you are done, otherwise a large squash may require you to cut in halves again so the pieces are small enough to fit in your pot. (Notice we didn't even attempt to peel this sucker - aren't you glad you know me!) Ta-da! Six minutes to chop this baby up for cooking! Better than the 20 minutes to peel and chop apples. Get your large sauce pan, put a steamer basket in the bottom and fill with water to the bottom of the steamer basket. Dump in all your squash pieces, cover and turn the heat to high. Once you hear it boiling lower the heat to simmer (medium-low) and cook; start checking tenderness at 20 minutes. A fork should completely pierce the flesh and cause it to fall apart. It took about 23 minutes for me to cook 3.72 lbs of squash. You can use this same cooking method for any hard winter squash.

Once the squash is done, take out the pieces to cool on a cutting board using tongs. Once cool, you can peel off the skin and puree in your blender, food processor or immersion blender. Save some cooking water to add to the puree for a yogurt-like smoothness. (See photo below, that is actually sweet potato puree but they look the same...) Let the puree chill in the fridge and once cool, fill up your ice cube trays and freezer overnight. Once frozen, store the cubes of squash in sealed plastic bags for up to 6 months. Just reheat to room temperature as needed. For older babies you can add one tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of orange juice per three cups of puree. Taste it - you might want to add more butter or OJ.

I bought two butternut squashes totally 3.72 pounds for $1.99 per pound, or $7.40. I made 53 ounces which comes out to $0.14 per ounce. Earth's Best Organic Butternut Squash is $1.19 for 4 ounces or $0.30 per ounce.

WARNING: Apparently it doesn't matter if you breastfeed your baby exclusively for six months, make all of her baby food and only provide healthy snacks...she will still tell you "Everything tastes delicious at McDonald's, Mom!" Darnit!!!


Rachel said...

charlie LOVES his butternut squash and wants to thank auntie shannon for making it for him. he eats it mixed with some rice cereal.

gracie said...

charlie LOOOVES his butternut squash!