Old Fried Winter Squash Recipe

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, October 17, 1911: Not so very much to write about. It is raining tonight.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

On days when Grandma wrote little, I often wish that she’d somehow known that someone would be reading the diary a hundred years later who wanted to know more about the mundane, routine aspects of her life—like what did her family eat for supper on a rainy evening in October?

Since she didn’t tell us what they ate, I’ll take a guess–

When I was growing up we often ate fried winter squash during the fall and winter. My sense is that this is a very traditional Pennsylvania food that Grandma would have eaten when she was young:

Fried Winter Squash

3/4  pound winter squash (butternut, hubbard, etc.), peeled and thinly sliced (approximate)

Lard or other shortening

salt and pepper

Melt shortening in skillet. It should be about 1/4 inch deep. Put 1 layer of squash in pan. Cook for about 5 minutes; turn squash with a fork. Cook  another 5 – 8 minutes; or until squash is tender. Remove squash from pan and drain on paper towels. Put on serving plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; serve immediately.

Yield: 2 servings

My husband and I really enjoy this recipe. It is very simple—and it really brings out the wonderful taste of the squash. The amounts are very flexible for this recipe. I usually slice enough squash to cover the bottom of the skillet.

In Grandma’s day they would have fried the squash in lard, but shortening works just fine.

I use butternut squash when I make this recipe—but butternut squash (somewhat surprisingly to me, since it’s so ubiquitous today) was not widely available until the 1940s. A hundred years ago, they probably used hubbard squash, Long Island cheese squash (this is a white squash that looks sort of like a pumpkin), or other traditional variety.

2 Responses

  1. Interesting once again! I will have to try this recipe. I love squash and have always wondered if there was another way to use it instead of just cooked and mashed. Do you think they ate pumpkin this way too?

    • I’d guess that they also ate pumpkin like this. When I was a kid, for everything except jack-o’-lanterns, our family used pumpkins and winter squash pretty interchangeably.

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