Saturday, September 25, 2010

Winter Squash Favorites of 2010

A Sweet Kikuza - Ready to Harvest

Many factors affect the flavor and sweetness of winter squash, including the soil, amendments and the environmental conditions where they're grown.

Each summer I grow a wide variety of squash as I'm trying to find seeds that will produce sweet and flavorful results in my climate. Unfortunately, many of the squash and pumpkins I've grown in Kihei have been bland, even when cured for months. This year, these were my favorites:

Sweet Kikuza

Sweet Kikuza averaged 3 lbs and they were the sweetest of all of the squash I've grown. The vines trailed 15 to 20 feet and the plants produced at least 3 mature fruits. Kikuza doesn't need to cure for long - when they lose their green tinge and turn a bit darker they're ready to use.

Kikuza is a good squash to use for making gnocchi, soup or pie filling. It takes more than one to make soup or a pie, but one Kikuza is enough to make gnocchi.

Gnocchi has become one of my favorite things to make with squash - it can be made with any type of flavorful squash or pumpkin. Following are links for uniquely different squash gnocchi recipes. (Pumpkin Gnocchi is made with amaretti cookies.)

Marina di Chioggia Gnocchi
Black Futsu

Black Futsu averaged 1.5 to 2 lbs and they were subtly sweet. The vines trailed about 15 feet and the plants produced a least 3 mature squash. These squash also don't need to cure for long, when they turn a rich tan color they're ready to use.

I prepare the Black Futsu by slicing the squash lengthwise and baking them with butter, course salt and cracked pepper. They would be good with butter and brown sugar too.

Greek Sweet Red

Greek Sweet Red was the last squash I planted for my 2010 trials and it was the most prolific of all the varieties of winter squash I've grown. The vines trailed nearly 40 feet and produced 2 to 6 squash per vine ranging from 4 to 8 lbs. The Greek Sweet was as sweet as the Kikuza but had a distinctive pumpkin flavor - they'll be great for making pumpkin pie during the holidays.

Black Futsu, Greek Sweet Red and Sweet Kikuza seeds are available at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.