The end of summer and a look ahead 

Monday, September 19, 2016 5:43PM

Now that we are into September, people are beginning to mourn the end of the delicious taste of summer tomatoes. What lots of people who grow their own tomatoes or buy them at farm stands don’t know, is that it doesn’t have to end.

Tomatoes are really easy to freeze, as simple as plucking a beautiful ripe heirloom, putting it in a plastic bag and plopping it in your freezer. You can pull it out of your freezer at any time, the skin slides off easily after it thaws and you can put it into stews, soups, tomato casseroles or juice it. It loses its texture but that delicious tomato summer taste is still there!

Tomatoes do not need blanching before freezing them, but as with all produce, wash and dry well before freezing. The same method works for sweet peppers. And parsley is an herb that freezes very well.

Winter Squash

One of my favorite fall vegetables is winter squash. There are three ways I like to cook it: bake it whole; steam it, then bake it; or cut into chunks and bake it.

To bake it whole, place it in a baking dish and pierce it in several places to keep it from exploding in the oven. An hour at 350 degrees will be enough to do the trick depending on the size of your squash; less for smaller squash and more for larger squash. Squash is done when a knife slides in easily. Cut it in half and scrape out the seeds and strings. You can then stuff it or mash it. This works well for squash like hubbard and butternut. It also works well with spaghetti squash, which you prepare by removing the seeds and fiber and scraping out the spaghetti-like strands, which can be seasoned with butter or other sauces.

To Steam it, cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds and fiber, place it upside down in a pan, pour in an inch of boiling water and cook it anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes in a pan uncovered in a 350 degree oven. When it is done, a knife slides in easily. You want to stay on top of this because when a squash gets overdone it falls apart. Pour off the water when it is done, flip the squash upright and put some butter and perhaps some brown sugar or maple syrup in it (for a real treat) and bake for another 20 minutes or so to brown up the squash and bring out the flavor. My favorite varieties of squash to cook this way are delicata, acorn, red kuri, kaboucha and sweet dumpling.

To chunk and bake, I halve the squash, remove the seeds and fiber and then cut it into two or three inch chunks. I only use this technique on relatively large squash like butternut or hubbard. I place the pieces with about a quarter inch of boiling water to prevent it from sticking in a pan or pot. I cover it with foil or a pot top to bake at 350 degrees. This technique speeds up the cooking process and I will mash it with some butter before serving.

Store your squash in a cool, dry place and it can last several months. I keep mine in the basement, but your best place be an unheated bedroom or pantry.

Keep your eyes open for bulk sales on winter squash.

Fall Greens

And don’t forget what a treat fall greens are. In the fall after a first frost, the taste of these is exquisite! You may be growing them in your garden or find them in local farm stands. They are hardy and can take some or quite a lot of frost. Some of these are broccoli, Swiss chard, spinach and different varieties of kale. They are really easy to cook. I cut broccoli into florets or chop leafy greens and sauté them or steam them. I like to add some onions and garlic in the cooking process to round out the flavor.

So enjoy your fall. Garden bounty is still out there to enjoy!

Rosaly Bass is founder of Rosaly’s Garden, New Hampshire’s oldest/largest certified organic farm.