Spring feels a long ways off! But it’s just around the corner (or so I keep reminding myself). As you know, I’ve already started some seedlings, a few of which I’ll be planting outside just as soon as we’re able to work the ground. And before we know it, I’ll be starting seedlings to transplant to the cold frames for those of you who have signed up for extended season shares. Meanwhile, I’m saving seeds from some of the delicious winter squash we grew last year. For anyone interested in saving seeds, I recommend Seed to Seed, Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth.
Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
Instructions for saving seeds from your winter squash:
Save seeds from winter squash that have grown to full maturity. They do cross-pollinate so hand pollinate and grow in isolation for pure seed (I did neither of these and will be curious to see if I grow any new and funky varieties!). After storing them for several weeks to assure seed viability, 1) cut open the squash, 2) remove the seeds, 3) rinse them to remove any debris and 4) spread them out to dry on a cookie sheet or other non-stick surface. When the seeds easily break in half, they are fully dry. Store them in an air-tight container.
And some nutritional information on winter squash, provided by the University of Illinois Extension:
Winter squash is a tasty source of complex carbohydrate (natural sugar and starch) and fiber. Fiber, which was once called roughage, absorbs water and becomes bulky in the stomach. It works throughout the intestinal track, cleaning and moving waste quickly out of the body. Research suggests that this soluble fiber plays an important role in reducing the incidence of colon cancer.
Winter squash is also a source of potassium, niacin, iron and beta carotene. The orange-fleshed squash is also an excellent source of beta carotene. As a general rule, the deeper the orange color, the higher the beta carotene content. Beta carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A being essential for healthy skin, vision, bone development and maintenance as well as many other functions.
The nutrient content of winter squash varies, depending on the variety. The following information is a summary of all varieties, cooked, baked and cubed.
Nutrition Facts (1 cup cooked, cubes)
Protein 1.82 grams
Carbohydrate 17.94 grams
Dietary Fiber 5.74 grams
Calcium 28.7 mg
Iron 0.67 mg
Potassium 895.85 mg
Folate 57.40 mcg
Vitamin A 7,291.85