July 31st-August 2nd 2017 – A fresh look at squash

Chill out in these hot hot days – Eliezer and Roze from Shoreshei Zion promise to teach you how to make raw fermented foods:

Probiotic Workshops:

13.8 ~ Part I:  Cultured Probiotic Veggies  – Basics :  Sauerkraut, Kimchi.

20.8 ~ Part 2:  Probiotic Veggies – Advanced : Sour Dills, Roots & Sea Kraut, Fruit Kimchi & more!

27.8 ~ Probiotic Drinks : Kombucha, Jun, Ginger Beer, Rejuvelac.

Where & when: Shorshei-Zion place: 3 Hatzaba st., Beit Shemesh. 17:30-20:30.

To Register shoresheitzion@gmail.com

__________________________________________________________

The Day the Squash Moved from the Kitchen to Your Living Room

The hot summer months bring a bevy of new vegetables, among them a wide array of tempting varieties of Chubeza squash and pumpkins. This ensemble comes in green, yellow, orange or beige, dotted and striped, smooth and coarse, round, elongated, pear-shaped, pine-cone shaped, sharp, flat, small and large, and even some in extra-large sizes. What a field day for the curcurbitas (Latin for “gourds”), all so beautiful and tasty!

As usual, this year too we grew seven different squash varieties, from the huge Tripolitanian pumpkin which can definitely serve as transportation for a shoeless princess, through the middle-sized Provence pumpkin, the familiar butternut squash, the oh-so-orange and textured Amoro squash, all the way to the compact, palm-of-the-hand-size green acorn squash. This year we grew two new varieties: the white indented squash, resembling a star, and a small light-orange, round and smooth squash.  This particular type is different outside and in, varying from yellow to salmon to dark orange, and in taste – a neutral flavor, or nutty or sweet, and in texture: wet and juicy, dry and starchy or long and thin spaghetti-style.

How exciting! Over the coming weeks you will be continue to be inundated with delightful small pumpkins. We remind you that you needn’t use them right away. We’d rather send them to you now, because here, crowded by the hundreds, they have so little breathing space. But in your homes, on your kitchen counter or in a wicker basket on the living room table, they’ll keep beautifully while enhancing your décor with flair. If you keep them dry and ventilated, they’re good for another month or even two! If they start growing a thin spider-like web, just wipe it away with a dry cloth to prevent rotting.

Interestingly, the bigger and smaller pumpkins (also known as winter squash) as well as summer squash (including zucchini) belong to the same botanical category and even to the same species. The differentiation between squash and pumpkins is artificial, having to do with the stage they are picked and how they are used by human beings. All varieties are seeded (in an open field, in their natural season) from the end of winter/beginning of springtime, and they all grow from spring to summer.

We pick the “summer squash” early, before they ripen, when their shell is thin and their seeds are not developed, sometimes as early as 40 days after seeding. Since we pick the fruits off the plant before it had time to produce fertilized seeds, the plant makes additional attempts, yielding more and more seed-bearing fruit in order to fulfill its aim in plant-life (and animal-life): to spread its genes. Thus we are granted a long harvest season from a plant that just keeps on yielding. These squash do not keep for long, which is why in the past they were only eaten during their natural season, summertime, hence their name. Today, squash are also grown in wintertime in hothouses, so they aren’t really seasonal.

Pumpkins (large and small), however, are picked as they ripen and mature, when their shell is thick and hard and their seeds are quite large (and crackable). Since we wait till the ripening is complete, they are harvested three to five months from seeding day. Our Tripolitanian pumpkin is large, and often requires a wait of six months. Its hard shell allows it to keep nicely for several months, enabling it to be eaten in wintertime as well. This presents a particularly significant advantage in the pumpkin’s ancestral home of North America in those areas where it is too cold to grow food during winter. Pumpkins were easily stored in warehouses, offering sweetness and a summery zest to the cold wintery days. Hence their name – winter squash.

Here are some family members that you have already met this season:

The acorn squash originates in Mexico and the U.S. where Native Americans cultivated earlier species. The dark green type which we grow was introduced in 1913 and enthusiastically received, thanks to its excellent taste but also because of its small size and thin shell, a source of relief for those battling the huge, hard pumpkins. In the U.S., and especially for those dining alone, it makes a good serving-for-one as well as a great stuffed vegetable.

The acorn squash really does taste delicious. Its skin is less moist than regular squash, and it has a sweet and nutty taste, which gave it the brilliant name “acorn squash.” Due to its sweetness, the acorn squash goes very well with piquant flavors – olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs, as well as sweet flavors – a gentle brush of honey or date honey. The ridges lining the fruit make it somewhat difficult to peel, but the good news is that you really do not have to! It tastes great in its shell. And if you still need to eat this squash shell-less, remove the shell only after baking or cooking when it’s so much easier to slip off.

The acorn contains more vitamin C and calcium than other squash varieties, and less vitamin A. If you treat it kindly, it will keep for a few months, decorating your tabletop, but its flavor will ebb. So let it decorate your countertops for a week or two, and then whisk it straight to the oven and onto your plates!

דלוריתThe butternut squash was most likely developed in the 1940s by an amateur gardener (not a farmer or scientist) named Charles A. Leggett who was experimenting in species cultivation in a small quarter-acre garden near his house in Stow, Massachusetts. Eventually, Leggett took the fruit of his experiment to the nearby Waltham Field Station to show them what he’d developed. They loved it! He named his baby “butternut” because he thought it was smooth as butter and yummy as a nut. It arrived in Israel in the 1980s, and received the cutesy name “dalorit.

The butternut squash is usually fond of hot, humid tropical weather. More than her sisters, the butternut really can’t take cold weather, which is why it is the most popular of Israeli squash varieties. The first species of this type were chubby-looking (with seed-filled bellies) and had long, sometimes curved necks. Over the years, other variations were developed, some with chubby and shorter necks to provide a uniform vegetable demanded by the market. Like zucchini, butternuts can also be picked at an earlier stage, and they’re very tasty when young (some say even more than regular squash). They’re fun to grow in a home garden, where you can pick some to be used as summer squash and allow others to ripen till they become the genuine butternut.

The butternut’s smooth rind makes it easy to peel with just a regular vegetable peeler. It is sweet and its pulp becomes soft after cooking, although there are those who claim that baking makes it better. The butternut is very rich in vitamin A, and under good conditions can be kept for six months (but how could you resist?).

amoroThis next girlfriend, “Amoro,” (whose name must have been coined by a love-struck fella or gal) is an orange, round and flat squash boasting a proud little rump. She belongs to a prominent group we already know: the Kabocha’s, or Japanese pumpkins (which some call Hokkaido).  Their defining characteristics are that they are all thick and lumpy on the outside, very hard to peel, and have relatively dry flesh.  “Kabocha” is Japanese for any type of squash. The origin of the name comes from the squash’s journey from Mesoamérica to Japan. After the Spanish and Portuguese arrived in America and discovered the new fruits and vegetables of the land, they began distributing them at the next stops on their sailing itinerary. The squash probably arrived in Japan in the mid-16th century via Portuguese sailors who brought it from Cambodia. It was named Cambodia abóbor, which was eventually shortened to become kabocha. And thus, every squash in Japan is a kabocha, and that is what this little group is called.

Its orange flesh color testifies to its wealth of beta carotene (vitamin A), which supplies a generous quantity of iron, vitamin C and potassium. It is similar in taste to the small green acorn squash, but hard to carve, which is why it should be softened first by steaming or baking slightly (first punch holes in the rind to allow the steam to escape). Then it can be easily cut and seeded for you to proceed and prepare it to your liking.

This year we grew two new, interesting squashes. The first is a small, round and light-orange smooth squash that hasn’t yet earned a name of its own, merely a serial number. Thus, Pump 7827 she is: orange inside and out, with very sweet flesh and easily carved and cookable.

And Pump 7827 stores a small unusual treasure, or rather lots of treasures, within. Its seeds are in fact shell-less: when you slice the squash in half you will find green, soft seeds which can be nibbled on raw, no roasting necessary. Or roast them and nibble some more. They’re delicate and delicious.

This squash is of the sort known as “sugar pie,” the renowned puree ingredient for the famous American pumpkin pie. Its trademark is the delicate filigreed lines which looks like they were painted on the shell, proving this squash is edible and sweet (uncharacteristic of most American pumpkins, which are mostly grown to be carved on Halloween and for other decorations).

Another newcomer is a starkly beautiful white squash, resembling a huge acorn squash in shape – with big slits which create the shape of a pinecone or star (if sliced in half.) It received the poetic name mashed potato, specifically because, like the acorn squash, its flesh is relatively solid and easy to puree. Unlike the acorn squash, it is not very sweet, which is why it goes well with more savory seasoning, just like mashed potatoes.

This white squash is more interesting, as it challenges our regular expectations of a squash to be orange and sweet. Here is an independent lily-white young miss, beautiful but not sweet, and yet – an honest-to- goodness squash, and just delicious. Enjoy!!

We’ll try to squash in some more on the subject, but for now, enjoy each and every one in all sizes, shapes, colors and flavors!

We are delighted to send hearty congratulations and happiness to Majdi and Seffa on the birth of their beautiful eldest daughter Salma, born this past Thursday. Congratulations to Ali, the proud uncle, and of course to Mohammed and Mohammedia, the proud and happy grandparents. We wish you many hours of sleep, happiness, laughter and a wonderful family life.

Wishing you good peaceful days and a fine week,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

_______________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S SUMMER BOXES?

The recent heatwave literally burned our cucumber bushes, and we are experiencing a cucumber shortage that is hitting the entire market these days. This dearth is felt everywhere, but even more in the organic market, and we are finding it hard to purchase supplementary cucumbers. For this reason, your boxes will contain a smaller quantity than usual in the cucumber department. We hope that our later-planted cucumber bushes will quickly grow and ripen so we can soon restore your usual quantity of bountiful, juicy summer cucumbers.

Monday: Coriander/parsley, acorn squash, yard-long beans/okra, cucumbers/bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, onions, potatoes, cherry tomatoes/edamame. Small boxes only: leeks.

Large box, in addition: Parsley root, slice of pumpkin/butternut squash, New Zealand spinach, corn.

Wednesday: Coriander/parsley, acorn squash/round sugar pie pumpkin, yard-long beans/okra, cucumbers/bell peppers/zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, onions, potatoes, cherry tomatoes/parsley root, edamame, New Zealand spinach.

Large box, in addition:  slice of pumpkin/butternut squash, corn, leeks.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, sprouts, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, apple juice, cider and jams, dates silan and healthy snacks and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!