Today is the autumn equinox, the mid point between midsummer and midwinter, when the nights begin to be longer than the days. Last night, the temperature really dropped, with some parts of the UK having their first proper frost of the autumn. It looks as though it will be a chilly one again tonight so I thought I’d best get my squashes in. I’m lining them up on shelves in the greenhouse for the skins to cure so that they will store over winter.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the haul, considering what a dismal summer we’ve had. The small Gem squash in particular have done really well. They grow from about cricket ball up to grapefruit size, sometimes six or seven to a plant and they take up less space than other varieties, running around underneath other taller plants. I first came across them in South Africa where they are very partial to them, wrapping them in tin foil and cooking them on a braai or barbecue, cutting them open and eating from the skin with butter and black pepper.
The green/grey Crown Prince are the most delicious, with firm, deep orange flesh that is excellent in soup, risotto, curries or roasted in chunks. The tough skins can be difficult to peel, but it means that they keep for six months or more. The biggest of these fruits is almost 8lbs so will feed us both for several meals on its own.
The golden skinned Hubbard squashes have done less well - they’re a bit more temperamental than the others and the fruits are prone to rotting when they’ve first formed so I think I might not bother with these in future and stick to Crown Prince.