'Sweet Meat' winter squash

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! Sorry to have been negligent about posting to the blog lately but as you can imagine, Christmas preparations and other commitments have been eating up my time.

And speaking of eating (nice segue, eh?), I have a 'Sweet Meat' winter squash baking in the oven right now and wanted to tell you about them.

They look like a large green pumpkin and are the most incredibly sweet and delicious winter squash I've ever eaten. I didn't grow any this year; a most generous and excellent gardener named Marje gave it to me. I didn't think to weigh it before cutting it up but I would guess it weighed about 10 lbs.

I was first served some 'Sweet Meat' squash at Thanksgiving and absolutely loved it! This has spurred some interest in growing some in our next veggie garden. In addition to having a sweet flesh, 'Sweet Meats' are excellent keepers so you can store them for a long time before eating them.

A web search shows that mail-order seed businesses like Territorial Seeds (www.territorialseeds.com), Victory Seeds (www.victoryseeds.com) and Ed Hume Seeds (www.humeseeds.com) are good sources for the seeds from this luscious squash. It looks like they need 105-115 days to reach maturity. That can be a little tricky to accomplish here in the Inland Northwest since our growing season averages about 120 frost-free days.

I'm going to try to give the plants a good head start indoors and plant them under a floating row cover in the garden for the first month to see if I can pull it off. Stay tuned for a report next summer...

Here's how to cook the 'Sweet Meat' squash:

Cut the squash into large wedges. Remove the seeds and pulpy material around them. Place the wedges into a roasting pan that has been oiled so the squash won't stick to it. Tightly cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, then decrease the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 2 hours or until the flesh is very tender. When done, remove the flesh from the rind and either puree it in a food processor or mash it with a potato masher. Add some butter and serve as a side dish. Delicious!