Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

winter produce and green luffas

Since it's that time of year... Let's chat a little about winter curbits. Pumpkins and hard shell squashes, gourds as well.

Ever consider drying your pumpkins and squashes? You can rehydrate it and use it in place of canned pumpkin, replace up to a 1/4 of the flour in quickbread recipes with pumpkin flour, add it as a thickener in some dishes, sprinkle a dusting onto other dishes for an extra hit of hidden veggies.. If you use particularly sweet pie pumpkins you can sprinkle on your oatmeal :)
Last year I cooked up and dehydrated up a ton of winter curbits- 2 medium carving pumpkins, one large delecata, one large dumpling, 5 small to medium buttercups, 1 large green and 2 small golden acorn squashes, 1 medium large (filled the pan in it's own roasting) and 1 small butternut squash. I have no idea how many pounds that all is before dehydration. The result of the process filled one 16 oz recycled dry roasted peanut jar. And it stores exceptionally well. 

Keep your whole squashes longer by NOT keeping them on the kitchen counter or in the fridge or in an uninsulated garage. Winter squashes need cool, dim, and DRY storage conditions.

All seeds of the common curbit family are edible. From pumpkins to acorns, butternut to those big ass seeds from that green thing you picked up the other day. Yep, you can roast them up and eat them just like pumpkin seeds. Just depends on if you think it worth it or not- if you eat only the seed meats, if the shell can be left on or must be taken off, ect.

Why yes, you can indeed eat jack o lantern pumpkins. They tend to be much more flavorless and much stringier than eating pumpkins. But you can pick up a couple now to use as pumpkin keggers through to christmas if you store them right- Yes, through christmas- there are white pumpkins or you can paint them for Snowman beverage vessels on the Yule table.
Imagine that snowman pumpkin with a spigot instead of a corn cob pipe.

What curbit is what? Here's a list of common eating squashes at Whats cooking America It has images and descriptions. And all those weird pumpkins and squashes in displays? Those are completely edible too, and far tastier than your average jack o lantern ;)

Gourds... To a great extent, gourds aren't good eats. Their flesh isn't tasty or plentiful, their shells rather hard, and seeds, erm. I grew luffas this year- those are edible while very young like a summer squash, but become more and more inedible as it matures. Yugoslavain Fingers gourd is a notable exception to the general no eat rule- young they are like summer squash, mature they are more like winter squash.
But gourds are wonderful when dried out for craft projects and decor. And depending on what you grow, you can then turn those gourds into food service items, like bowls, spoons, cups- even serving dish sized or garden picking basket sized things.

Green Luffas
Well, here it is after the first serious frost/freeze/snow (all kind of happend at once)... And I got a couple dozen non-mature luffas on the dead vines. They aren't edible immature, too much fiber and seed for that, but they aren't fully black seeded brown skinned mature either. There's lots of info about let them dry, but not much info on what to do if they couldn't go dry on the vine- as in, I live where it snows. Since they already got the freeze so it's too late to pull them before freezing, I decided to experiment and see if I could salvage any of these things. I still have over a dozen on the vine I can either pull in and deal with if needed, or leave out there to winter dry if they don't go to crap.

Pulled 8 luffas on day 1:
First two luffas I peeled, sliced, and laid out on heavy paper to start to dry. One was really wet inside, the other much dryer.
Second two got their skins pierced quite a bit, and laid on heavy paper to start to dry
Luffa 5 got peeled, sliced, and put into the dehydrator at 115 for several hours
Luffa 6 got sliced up unpeeled, put on heavy paper, and into the oven at 200 for 4 hours then left in the oven overnight
The last two didn't get touched at all

Here's a pic after I peeled the first luffa- Nova is keeping an eye on them to make sure they don't do anything stupid. I peeled over some recycled newspaper to save on mess cleanup.

Day 2:
Luffa 1 already showed mold! The wetter of the two of course.
Luffa 2, the dryer one is showing no mold, but is still fairly damp.
Luffa 3 was so wet and low fiber it needed to be discarded.
Luffa 4 was able to be used, I peeled, cored, and rinsed the sponge well before setting out to air dry.
Luffa 5 looked good enough after coming out of the dehydrator that I tagged and bagged it. 
Luffa 6 got peeled this morning, and baking did help make the taking the skin off a tad easier. These are also thinner slices than any of the other segments. They are now air drying.
Luffa 7 was too wet and low fiber to be used
Luffa 8 got segmented and placed in bleach water. 2 oz in the 80 oz recycled sour cream tub. Used a small dish to help keep the pieces submerged before putting the lid on it.
 The back rack has luffa 6, the front right is luffa 2, front left is luffa 4

Day 3:
Luffa 2, looks like it's drying out, showing some browning
Luffa 4, this one is well dried already
Luffa 5, in it's bag sitting next to the other racks, it's noticeably showing it's dried from green color. 
Luffa 6, looks like it's drying out nicely. Not showing as much browning as luffa 2.
Luffa 8, did not get opened today, wanted to let it sit 48 hours

Day 4:
Luffa 2, same as yesterday
Luffa 4, this one is fully dried, tagged, and bagged. Used a section today in the kitchen, foamed well, scrubbed well, rinsed out well. Now it's drying to see how well it does there.
Luffa 5, same as yesterday
Luffa 6, same as yesterday
Luffa 8, got drained, cleaned and rinsed, and set out to dry. Don't know if it was the bleach solution, or that this luffa was further along, but I had a remarkably easy time squeezing out all of the seeds leaving the center fiber intact.
Luffa 9: Luffa 8 turned out so well, I picked another off the vine to treat in the same manner to see if I get the same results or not.
This is what the luffas 8 looked like when I first took the lid off.

On the back rack is luffa 8 sitting out to air dry. Looks the best overall. In the bag is luffa 5. On the front rack left to right is luffa 4, luffa 6, then luffa 4.

No comments:

Post a Comment