Tag Archives: food scientist

Storing winter squash

We’ve still got quite the supply of pie pumpkins and butternut squash.  We love them both very much and started the winter off with a vanload.  See the picture from Courtney’s post a month ago.

Storing them was easy.  We brought them home from our friend’s house and cleaned them up with a wet rag and a bucket of water.  I let them dry in the garage overnight, because I didn’t want excess water soaking in to the top of our kitchen cabinets.  The next day we arranged them on top of the cabinets.  Done.  I didn’t do anything else to them.  I’ve read that it might be a good idea to dip them in a clorox/water solution as a way of preventing mold, etc but I didn’t do that.

I wondered how long they would keep.  Now I know it is about five months.  At the beginning of February I went through and inspected each one.  There were two or three that were getting soft and a few more that were developing a small amount of white fuzzy mold at the bottom.  All of those were thrown away.  That was a tough one for me, because you all know that I don’t like to throw things away.  Having a food scientist for a wife helps keep the gray areas of what is acceptable to eat or not well defined and very narrow.  I was tempted at first to simply cut out the bad spots and cook the rest as a way to salvage the pumpkin.  Courtney says “no” because fungi usually have very extensive root systems, meaning that if we see a little surface mold then the flesh of the pumpkin is likely full of mold roots.  As an interesting side note, see this Wikipedia article on the 2200 acre fungus patch in Oregon.

Today I see that there are a few more showing signs of wear, so we’ll have to do another wave of winnowing.  It is probably time to bake the last of them and freeze as much as we can.

Here’s a picture of a good one and a bad one.  Its pretty easy to tell them apart.

I should also mention, though, that the butternuts keep much longer.  We only threw one away so far and it was because the skin was scraped and therefore weakened.  They are good keepers.

Thanks, Robert.

Ricotta with my Home Ec Club

We made ricotta a few weeks ago.  We, as in my friends from church, and ricotta, as in the cheese.  That’s right folks you heard correct, I made cheese.  Even though I really just watched, I still consider it a personal accomplishment.  I’ve tried 3 times in the past to make mozzarella and 3 times it ended in tears.  (It was all the milk’s fault; it was UHT milk, not at all the right thing)

Now about the Home Ec Club, that’s what we’ve coined it, a group of ladies from church, all with an interest in seeing how cheese was made, got together and did it.  Just like that.  Everyone brought different talents to the party, we had two dairy farmers, one woman who pasteurizes goat milk, one experienced cheese maker, one food scientist who can’t make cheese to save her life (that’s me), one mom who was happy to leave her kids at home with dad, one mom who was just happy to get out of the house and one mom with four kids who love cheese, and cartoons.

We started out our lovely cheese making adventure by enjoying a cup of coffee, or two, or three and chatting.  An hour later we watched a pasterization demo, chatted, watched two far more talented ladies than myself make the cheese, chatted some more and then ate lunch.

It was so much fun.  I encourage you to start asking your friends if they would like to learn how to make cheese too.  You may end up making new friends as well as cheese.

Oh and I was sent home with a wedge of fresh ricotta.  It was delicious.

Thanks,  Courtney