If you’ve been following Tom Sietsema’s odyssey through America’s best food cities, you’ve been expecting this: It’s New York week. In the seventh installment of his 10-part series, Tom ate his way across three boroughs and came back to share the results. There’s a story, a map, a gallery of great photos and videos. Dive in!
Also in Food this week, Andrew Jenner tells us why a Virginia farm hopes you’ll celebrate Thanksgiving — that most American of holidays — with a British turkey. Jane Black interviews food waste expert Dana Gunders about her new “Waste Free Kitchen Handbook.” David Hagedorn tells how local chefs and potters are raising money to feed the needy with special dinners around the Washington area. And Elissa Altman continues her series about the challenges of feeding an aging mother who doesn’t want to eat.
And, of course, there’s our weekly Free Range chat. You won’t want to miss this entertaining hour, which starts at noon sharp and promises to provide answers to your every culinary question. Lets’s start the ball rolling right here with a leftover question from last week’s chat:
I bought a couple of containers of pre-cut butternut squash for a recipe, but due to a change in plans, I won’t be able to use the squash before it goes bad. Can I freeze it raw? Can I roast and freeze it? If so, how can I make sure it freezes well? Or, do you have any vegetarian recipes for it (other than butternut squash soup) that are easy to make and freeze well?
Butternut squash freezes like a champ! More good news: It does fine whether frozen raw or cooked. And the fact that yours has been cut into small chunks is no problem.
You can freeze raw butternut squash pieces in the same way you would freeze berries: Place them on a baking sheet, spaced out so they don’t touch each other, and freeze until very firm. Then gather them in a freezer container, leaving room for possible expansion. Freeze until needed.
Some cooks advocate blanching the pieces in boiling water for three to five minutes, plunging them into ice water to flash-cool, then draining and proceeding with freezing; that method is backed by a number of university extension services, which say you’ll end up with better texture that way. (Something to do with enzymes breaking down the structure of the food.) Others say blanching is unnecessary. I’ve never noticed a big deterioration in quality after freezing, but it would be fun to freeze two batches, one blanched and one not, and then compare. Well, at least it would be fun for me; I always like to experiment.
You can also cook the squash — by roasting, steaming or boiling — then mash it up and freeze that way. Defrosted, it’ll be useful for purees or pie fillings or soups.
Speaking of soups, I’m sad that you ruled out recipes for butternut squash soup, because we have lots of them, and they are so varied that you could make one every week and never tire of them. Would you consider rethinking? Just go to our Recipe Finder, do a search and you’ll find soups flavored with curry or sage; dairy-free or rich with cream; all-American or Thai-flavored; and the list goes on.
Now for some butternut squash recipes you can make now and freeze; all do very well in the freezer for as long as three months. By the way, you can apply the same freezing techniques to most kinds of winter squash, just as you can use other winter squashes in the following recipes: