Valley Bounty: Spaghetti Squash
Neil Pomeroy had never heard of spaghetti squash before he began getting requests to grow it a decade ago. These days, it’s Pomeroy who is recommending the crop to others. “People should definitely try it,” he told me during a recent conversation. “It’s a great alternative to pasta. It’s easy to cook, easy to prep, and it stores well.”
Pomeroy owns Pomeroy’s Vegetable Farm in East Longmeadow. He reported that 2019 has been a great spaghetti squash growing season on the farm. Pomeroy direct seeded the squash back in May and the young plants were bolstered by early-season rains. But as the squash fruit grew and ripened later in the season, he was glad to see a dry spell settle in. Too much moisture in the fields can cause major mold issues for spaghetti squash.
Throughout September, Pomeroy kept a close eye on the color of the spaghetti squash ripening in his fields. “The fruit goes from a pale green to a cream-color with a yellow buff on the upper side,” he explained. “Leading up to picking them, I would go out and find one that I thought was ready and pick it. We’d cook it and see, ‘Oh, not quite yet.’ So we’d wait a few more days and try again. Until finally we cooked one that was good and we started the harvest.”
Pomeroy told me that spaghetti squash ripen pretty much simultaneously. He recently harvested his whole crop within the course of a few days. But while the spaghetti squash harvest is just about wrapped up, the fruit will easily stay fresh through Thanksgiving. Keep your eye out for this unique squash at farm stands and markets throughout the Valley this autumn!
Pomeroy recommended cutting your spaghetti squash in half and baking it face down on a cookie sheet with a little bit of olive oil. “I always leave the seeds in because they’re full of wonderful nutrients,” he said. “Their flavor bleeds out into the squash and make it taste a lot better.” Bake the squash at 350 degrees for around 35 minutes. Pomeroy explained that you’ll know it’s done “if you push on the skin lightly with a fork and it goes through.” Once cooked and cooled, flip the squash over and dig out the seeds with a spoon. Then, “gently pull the flesh away from the rind and it will break apart like strands of spaghetti.” Pomeroy typically tops his squash with butter, salt, pepper, and garlic. But his daughter likes to treat it like pasta and adds marinara sauce. Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of time left in squash season to experiment with both!
Noah Baustin is the Communications Coordinator at CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)