Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Cooking Acorn Squash in the Wood Cookstove

We've been cooking with wood almost exclusively since turning off the electric water heater on September 21st.  The only exceptions have been a frozen pizza which I baked in the electric oven in the basement, and cakes and rolls were baked in the propane oven for our baked-goods-for-sale day last Thursday.  The wood cookstove oven was in use simultaneously that day, though, as there was such a large amount of baking to be done.  Now, I just need to get caught up with blogging!

One of the common themes among my posts about cooking on a wood cookstove is that I like to use it for foods that have long cooking times. Acorn squash is one of those foods that is particularly well suited to long cooking in a wood cookstove, and we had a large crop of them this year--all of which were volunteer!

A fraction of the acorn squash that grew in our garden this year.

Of course, there are as many ways to prepare acorn squash as there are cooks who do so, but I'm going to just show you what I do.

In the pictures below, I'm going to prepare two different sets of squash to be cooked at the same time: one set for eating, and one set for use in making other dishes.

Starting at least a couple hours before I want to have the squash ready to eat, I build my fire so that I will have a moderate oven--between 325º and 350ºF.

The next step is to wash the outside of the squashes thoroughly and cut them in half from side to side.

Then, using a strong metal spoon with a fairly sharp edge, I scoop out the seeds and pulp.

Next, I arrange the halves cut side up in glass or ceramic baking dishes.

Into those I am planning on eating right away, I place maybe a tablespoon of brown sugar in the cavity where the pulp was.  Then, I put around a teaspoon of salted butter on top of the brown sugar.  For the squash that I'm going to use for other things, I omitted the butter and brown sugar.

Without covering, put them in the oven to bake.  Baking time will depend on the size and ripeness of the squash, but I've never had a time when they took less than an hour and a half, and I've never seen them get too done.

I put the pan of squash that would be for our supper
in the oven first so that they would be ready in time.

Later, I moved the first pan of squash to the top rack and put the pan of squash
to be cooked for later applications on the bottom one.

When you can insert a fork in the fleshy part and it feels soft, remove them from the oven.

Now, I don't care for the stringy texture of acorn squash, so this is what I do to prevent having to deal with it.  Pour the brown sugar/butter syrup into the blender, cut them in halves again and use the same spoon that you took the seeds out with to scrape the flesh away from the peel.

Put the flesh into the blender and blend it with the brown sugar/butter syrup until it is all smooth.  If it is too dry, you can add any number of things; maple syrup, cream, and butter come to mind, but I just added some boiling water from the teakettle.

The squash pulp in the blender.  You don't have to have a
blender as cool as a vintage Osterizer Imperial handed
down to me from my grandmother, but it helps make it
more fun!

Once it is completely blended, you could put it into a slightly greased casserole dish and pop it in the oven if it has cooled off too much, but it was more than sufficient to slide this small bit into the warming oven while I finished the preparations for the rest of the meal.

Below is a picture of what the final product looks like on the plate.  You don't have to tell me how ugly it is; Nancy has already taken care of that job.  She said it looked like baby food.  She's right; however, when I look at it, the first thing that comes to mind is the 1970s gold insulated drapes that my mom and both of my grandmothers had hanging in our living rooms when I was little.

Acorn squash tastes much better than drapes, though.  When prepared this way, I serve it instead of a potato.  Except for the fish, each of the foods here was raised on our farm.  I love meals like that!

Use the comments section below to tell me how you like acorn squash cooked.  Bon appetit!


  1. Hey Jim, volunteer acorn squash are good but we prefer butternut and prepare it the same way. Apparently this is the universal receipt for winter squash. TP in SC

  2. Another squash that prepares well by halving and roasting with sugar and butter (I use real maple syrup instead of brown sugar) is delicata. The skin is somewhat edible too.

  3. Thanks, gents! I'm glad to see that others prepare squash the same way. Now I don't feel so guilty about putting sugar on a vegetable! Weird how that works, isn't it?