TRAVERSE CITY — There’s no time like the present to think about the coming winter, especially when it means having fresh squash, bought at low prices, stashed away for months to come.
The end of the harvest season has pushed prices for winter squash varieties as low as they’ll fall — bargains that likely won’t last when oncoming snow blankets northwestern Michigan and frost ends the roadside market season.
Buying when prices are low can save a family hundreds of dollars over paying per-pound rates that can quintuple when stores and markets begin to ship squash to Michigan from other regions of the country.
But once you’ve procured a trunk load of bargain-priced acorn, butternut and hubbard squash, how do you make them last?
"There’s got to be a way of keeping them,” said Steve Robertson, owner of Silver Lake Farms. A roadside stand in front of his home along West Silver Lake Road run by his wife and daughters peddles baskets full of squash throughout the fall.
Tuesday, one of Robertson’s last half-bushel baskets of festival squash would cost a passerby $10, or about 33-cents-per pound.
Robertson has grown a variety of squash for about five years and has tried to make some of them last into the winter himself. He successfully kept some into the winter last year, but nowhere close to the six months others say they can make the seasonal vegetables last.
"I was able to keep them into the end of January,” he said.Robertson has heard the tip that all winter squash varieties should be kept above 50 degrees in a well-ventilated storage area, but that’s about where his expertise ends, he said.
Susan Odom, self-proclaimed squash snob and proprietor of the Hillside Homestead bed and breakfast near Suttons Bay, says she’s gotten pretty good at making her stash last.