Another freezer cleaning frenzy, and the memory of fall foliage, now being tilled into the garden. Mind you, I have another bag of pureed pumpkin in the freezer and a few squash in the kitchen basket. Fall might soon melt into spring on my plate.
Freezing Winter Squash
Winter squash includes those hearty, magnificent orbs, like pumpkin, turban, butternut, and acorn. (Summer squash typically refer to the zucchini family).
Freezing squash is as easy as washing your hands. Peel the squash, scoop out the seeds and cut it into cubes roughly the same size. You can choose to of the following methods:
1. Lay out the cubes on a baking sheet and rest in the freezer for about an hour, or until frozen. Transfer to a ziplock bag. Use a straw or your lips to suck out the air and seal tightly. When you are ready to use the squash, defrost in a bowl of warm water and cook as if raw.
2. Add the squash cubes to a pot of boiling water. Boil until fork tender. Using a fork, blender, masher, or food processer, blend into a puree. Transfer to a ziplock bag, again removing excess air. Freeze flat on a cookie tray or a flat part of the freezer. This will help for better storage.
Savory and Sweet Pumpkin Knots
These delicious, versatile knots are an absolute treat and made me feel very clever! I was inspired by (Never Home)Maker’s recipe.
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoon honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
- 1/2 cup puréed pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1.5 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- 3.5 cups unbleached bread flour, plus extra for flouring counter surface
- 2 tablespoons coarse cornmeal
Garlic-Oregano Coating or Sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon dried, crushed oregano
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- grated Parmesan or other spices like rosemary and thyme
Spiced Maple Spreading Cheese
- 2–3 tablespoons cream cheese or ricotta
- 1/4 teaspoon, ground cinnamon
- a pinch of ground nutmeg
- a pinch of ground clove
- 1/4 teaspoon, ground ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
- Pour the warm water into a medium bowl and whisk in the yeast. Let sit for about ten minutes until the surface becomes bubbly and frothy.
- Meanwhile, puree the pumpkin with the honey or other sweetener. I used a blender to make a smoother texture since my freezer storage wasn’t finely pureed.
- Then add your pumpkin puree and olive oil to the yeast and water; with a fork or whisk, whisk until smooth.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. With your fist, make an impression in the center of the mixture; this is where you will pour your wet ingredients.
- Sprinkle some flour on a clean counter top.
- Pour in your wet ingredients. Start mixing everything together with a spatula or spoon. When you can no longer mix with your utensil, transfer the dough to the counter top.
- Use your hands to start kneading the dough. Keep kneading, adding more flour as necessary to prevent the dough from becoming too sticky, until the ball is elastic. I learned to test the right “gluten” consistency by making a thumb print in the dough. If the print stays, it’s ready!
- Lightly oil another large bowl and put your dough ball inside it, flipping over once to coat both sides with oil. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Place in a warm, sunny spot (or cover with a down jacket or warm blanket if it’s cold). Let rise for about two hours. The dough should double in size. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Sprinkle a baking sheet with coarse cornmeal to keep the knots from sticking.
- Remove the dough from the bowl. (You can store your dough in a ziplock bag and store overnight in the refrigerator or for up to three weeks in the freezer.) On a floured surface, tear off sections of the dough about the size of two tablespoons. Roll them into a snake shape and tie into a knot! Set aside and continue with the rest of the dough.
- Place the knots on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, until the knots are golden brown.
- While you’re waiting, prepare your savory coating or dipping sauce, and sweet spread…
Garlic-Oregano Coating or Sauce:
- Mix the ingredients in a large bowl. You can either toss the pumpkin knots in the bowl, coating them lavishly, or reserve for dipping.
Spice Maple Spreading Cheese:
- Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix together thoroughly. Spread thickly on a fresh, warm pumpkin knot! Divine!