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Food Blogger: A lifelong fascination with the humble squash

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Anna Lamotte runs Guardswell Farm, near Inchture, with sister Kirstin and writes regularly for The Courier’s food magazine, The Menu

Winter melon, acorn, turban, kuri, delicata… does anyone else harbour a desire to be in a position to name a variety of squash?

A basketful of squash tells us that the days are growing shorter, the food is eaten warmer and the woollies a little thicker.

We visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, as children – where squash and gourds were piled high in their potting shed, or lined up for curing on benches – and have been fascinated with these ridged, knobbly, tough-shelled beasts ever since.

The Guardswell Grows team have spent the last couple of weeks wading through the undergrowth of the squash bed, mining for citrine jewels hiding among the emerald leaves. The squash then need to “cure” before they are ready to store and eat. They sit somewhere cosy for two weeks – perhaps in your glasshouse or your kitchen –letting the skins toughen and thicken. Then they will be quite happy waiting a few months for you to eat them.

Our favourite squash recipe requires a bonfire, which we understand not everyone will have. But it can also be cooked in the oven (at 200C) if you haven’t got glowing embers to hand.

You will want a medium-sized squash for this exercise. As if you were carving a Halloween pumpkin, cut a circle around the stem of the squash (big enough to get your hand through) and pull the lid off.

Scoop out the insides (saving the seeds to roast for a little snack) and throw in a big (approximately 75-100g) knob of butter, a liberal slosh of olive oil, a few crushed cloves of garlic (with skins on), a handful of sage leaves and a tablespoon of honey.

Apologies in advance for the lack of specific measurements – this is a really rustic recipe – so if you are a bit higher or lower, it doesn’t really matter. Pop its hat back on, and tightly wrap in a couple of layers of tin foil, then – taking a spade – dig a hole in the glowing embers of the bonfire and bury your parcel.

Dig out after an hour, and you’ll know your squash is done if you can squish into its flesh with your thumb. Scoop out the flesh and slather over crunchy sourdough toast – autumnal heaven on a slice!

Find out more at Guardswell Farm.

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