Selecting, Storing and Enjoying Autumn Favorites: Apples and Winter Squash

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Two of my Autumnal favorites – apples and Winter squash are here for our Autumn eating enjoyment. In-season produce is always at its peak of quality and it’s lowest price, so now’s the time to enjoy Autumn’s abundance.


Although apples are available year-round, they’re harvested – and therefore freshest – in the Fall. Fresh apples can be kept at room temperature only a week before beginning to lose freshness. Store your apples in a ventilated plastic bag in your refrigerator’s produce drawer. If you happen to score a bushel or two and want to keep them as fresh as possible for eating throughout the Winter, wrap unblemished apples individually in a quarter sheet of newspaper, twisting loosely at the top. Store in a single layer in a box without crowding, covered with a heavy, damp cloth, in a cool location where they won’t freeze.

Which variety you choose depends upon your personal taste and how you plan to use the apples. Red Delicious and Golden Delicious are popular all-purpose apples that will take to any application – eating or cooking. Fuji and Gala apples are sweet, Granny Smiths are tart. Honeycrisp and McIntosh are crisp and juicy.

There are many ways to use and enjoy apples; some of the simplest uses, besides biting into them whole, are in pie filling and applesauce. Here’s a very simple and satisfying apple recipe:

Apple Crisp

Peel and slice 4-5 apples.
Arrange in a buttered 8”x8” baking pan.
Sprinkle apples with 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
Sprinkle with a mixture of ¾ cup packed brown sugar, ½ cup oats, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg and ½ teaspoon salt.
Drizzle ¼ cup orange juice over mixture.
Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes.

Hard Shell (Winter) Squash and Pumpkins

Butternut, Acorn, Hubbard, Spaghetti, Turban and Pumpkin are some of the varieties of hard shell (Winter) squash. When choosing squash, pick ones that seem heavy for their size, are unblemished and firm. They can be stored for many months in a cool, dry location not below 50°F.

Although I included pumpkins in this category, note that the flesh of the large “carving pumpkins” used for Jack-o-Lanterns is not the same as that from which we make pumpkin pie. That comes from smaller “pie pumpkins” which are, in essence, Winter squashes.

All Winter squashes have a slightly sweet and “musky” flavor and can be steamed, boiled, baked or even grilled. The flesh can be cubed or pureed and eaten as is or added to soups, stir-frys and casseroles.

I’m particularly fond of this simple method I developed for Butternut squash, but it could be used for any variety of Winter squash.

Grilled Winter Squash

Microwave one whole squash 2 minutes on high to slightly soften and make slicing easier.
Slice squash in ¾” slices, discarding the stem and end.
Scoop out seeds and fibers from center of slices; set aside.*
Brush slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Lay slices on medium hot grill; cook until lightly browned (about 10 minutes). Flip slices and brown other side.
Squash is done when fork-tender.
Remove shell before eating.

Even Winter Squash seeds are delicious!

*Toasted Squash (or Pumpkin) Seeds

Remove seeds from squash, rinse and remove fibers.
Place in pan and just cover with water.
Add ½ teaspoon salt.
Simmer for 10 minutes.
Drain; pour seeds on baking sheet.
Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Bake in 225°F oven until completely dry, 30-45 minutes.

How better to experience and enjoy the flavors of Autumn than with apples and Winter squash? They’re fresh, abundant, delicious, inexpensive and healthy foods to round out your Fall menus.

What is your favorite Autumn produce?

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