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Savoring the Seasons: Putting local, community first every day



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

This is my last Savoring the Seasons column as I shift focus to my new job with Community Action. Thank you for the many kind thoughts about this column that readers have shared with me.

This column is ending, but I’ll keep supporting local farms, food producers and eating delicious local food. You’ll see me at farm stores, food co-ops and farmers markets, including the Greenfield winter farmers markets, which happen on Nov. 18, Dec. 2, Jan. 6, Feb. 3 and March 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Four Corners Discovery School (Ferrante Avenue off Routes 5/10).

Much has changed since this column started in 2007. I am glad I could help increase appreciation of delicious food grown and produced in our area. Ten years ago, there were no winter farmers markets or CSAs and very few year-round farm stores. Now, there are many year-round opportunities to buy locally grown food. Our neighbors who use SNAP benefits can now get free fruit and vegetables through their HIP benefits at farmers markets, farm stores and CSA farm shares. Learn more about this program at: bit.ly/2tMywCa

Ten years later, I’m still continuing to learn about local food. At the Greenfield winter farmers market, Barbara Goodchild from Barberic Farm in Shelburne told me about experimenting with pickling butternut squash. I didn’t know you could pickle squash! My sister Martha says that in Japan, pickled slices of what they call pumpkin — kabocha squash — are popular.

Barbara sent recipes she’s trying for pickled squash. She doesn’t know her favorite yet because pickles need to sit for several weeks to meld properly. When I see Barbara again, I’ll be sure to ask her what she learned.

This column has always been about both food and community. Every day, we choose what we do and say. Every day, we have an opportunity to build community, with people we agree with and those we don’t. Every day, I work to build bridges and find common ground with others.

Every day, with every meal, we each get a vote. By choosing what we eat, we can show our support for local farms and food producers. When you shop for food or decide what meal to prepare, I hope you’ll think, “What would Mary and her food column readers eat?”

The answer? Choose local and choose community!

This week we’re eating ...

Pickled butternut squash: Shared by Barbara Goodchild from Barberic Farm, Shelburne, originally from Marisa McClellan’s “Food in Jars”

Ingredients:

2 lbs. butternut squash

1 T. pickling salt

2 whole cloves

4 whole black peppercorns

1 bay leaf crumbled

1 C. cider vinegar

½ C. sugar

2 thin slices fresh ginger, slivered

1 garlic clove, chopped

Instructions:

Peel, seed and chop butternut squash into ½-inch cubes. Place squash cubes in bowl and toss with pickling salt. Let sit 2 to 3 hours. Pour liquid from cubes, rinse them well and drain. Pack them into pint mason jars.

Prepare boiling water bath canner and 2 pint jars. Place lids in small pot and bring to a bare simmer. In medium saucepan, combine spices with vinegar, sugar, ginger, and garlic with 1 C. water. Bring mixture to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat, cover pan, simmer for 10 minutes. Once brine has simmered, remove it from heat. Pour brine over squash, using fine mesh sieve to catch spices. Leave ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, adjust headspace if needed, and wipe rims with dampened clean paper towel.

Adjust lids and process 10 minutes using boiling water bath method. Remove canner from heat, remove lid, and let jars sit 15 minutes in canner. Remove jars from canner, set on clean towel or rack to cool 12 to 24 hours. When cool, check seals. Lids should be down in the center or stay down when pressed. Remove rims, label, date and store in a cool, dark, dry place. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks.

Let contents marinate for at least a week before eating. Unopened jars can be kept in a cool dark place for up to one year.

Yield: 2 pints

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer, editor, and book indexer. Send column suggestions and recipes to: mmcclinto@yahoo.com.