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Survival Food: Winter Squash

As we march closer to self-sufficient homesteading, I find myself wondering how people survived year-round in areas with harsh winter climates. Intellectually, I know it is possible – or there wouldn’t be such a thriving Amish community in upstate New York and Pennsylvania. But it’s not just the obvious curiosity of heat, water and modern plumbing – wood, hand pumps, I get that. But how did they survive health-wise?

Everyone knows that significant amounts of nutrients are lost during the heating and canning process – and everyone knows that there isn’t a myriad of fresh produce waiting to be plucked – so just how were people getting the proper nutrients to fight disease and survive? Two words: WINTER. SQUASH. That’s right – winter flippin’ squash. We’re talking acorn, butternut, buttercup, spaghetti, hubbard, etc. Not only can winter squash be kept (in a cool, dark space) anywhere from one month to SIX months – it contains copious amounts of vitamin A and also vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, fiber, potassium, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin E – the list goes on and on. And with its remarkable shelf-life, no doubt it was a staple on the dinner table for our ancestors.

What does this have to do with herbs? I’ll be honest – not much. You CAN use herbs to make squash more delicious! I like to add maple syrup and cinnamon to acorn squash. It tastes like candy. Actual candy. We also pair spaghetti squash with black pepper and fresh-grated Parmesan.

Before I end my squash rant I want to say this: save the seeds and roast them – just like pumpkin seeds. Acorn squash seeds are a favorite in our house – they are absolutely delicious with just coconut oil and sea salt.