25 June 2011

Turban squash is curcurbita maxima

Winter squash loves getting a good start in summer's heat just at the time when the summer squash is blooming and spreading. How many of these we grow depends on how much room we have in the garden.

Summer squash, all the zucchini varieties and shapes included, is picked and eaten while the seeds are small and the skin is soft. In contrast, winter squash grows all summer and is harvested when the outer skin is hard and the seeds are pretty big.

Trombetta di Albegna from Renee's Seeds
Summer squash is curcurbita pepo including zucchini, marrow, courgette, yellow,  crookneck, etc. This year I planted Trombetta from Renee's Seeds. It climbs but I put it into the garlic bed to crawl.

 
The four kinds of winter squash are: curbita pepo such as spaghetti and acorn squashes, curcurbita moschata such as calabaza,and cushaw (the ones I have mostly grown), curcurbita mixta such as butternut and curcurbita maxima such as hubbard, turban and banana. There are pumpkin-types in all four species.

Every summer when I'm out in the sun hand-picking squash bugs and their eggs and nymphs, I promise myself (muttering out loud on most days) that I will not plant squash again the following year.

But by the next spring, all of those promises fall by the wayside out of excitement for the delicious meals that both summer and winter squash represent.

Victory Seeds dot com
The winter squash I plant varies from year to year. This year it's Turban squash. Late last fall I was in Arnold's produce store and the Turbans were on sale for 50-cents apiece. Well, what gardener could resist picking up one for the seeds? Not this one!

Turks Turban is also called Aladdin's Turban, Mexican Hat and Turk's Cap Gourd. Here's what
St. Clare's Heirloom Seeds has to say about it.

"80-125 days. Highly decorative and colorful buttercup type squash, this heirloom dates back to pre1800. This variety has been gaining popularity for it's decorative qualities. The Turk's Turban Squash/Gourd is orange and red and white on green, with a distinctive cap or turban on top. The fruits grow to about 8-12" in diameter, and weigh 5-10 lbs. Keeps well if not bruised during harvest and storage. They are fair eating quality. Can be baked plain or stuffed. Very popular at roadside vegetable stands."

That Turban sat in the kitchen all winter and held its shape and color. A couple of weeks ago we took out the seeds, not knowing whether or not the experiment was even a waste of 50-cents. There were so many seeds that we couldn't plant more than a third of them and put the rest into the worm bin with the squash meat.


Turban squash seedlings have 8-inch long roots and are ready to go into the ground.
Turbans are not grown for their food value since they are not the best flavored eating squash, but they are widely used as fall decorations. If the pollinators do their job and the squash bugs and borers don't get them, we'll have plenty to share in about 90 days.

The Library of Congress has an educational page on squash that's a fun read at  http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/squash.html.

LOC says that curcurbita maxima has round thick stems, curcurbita moschata has round stems, and, curcurbita pepo has pentagonal prickly stems. Who knew?

Here's a clever idea from Veg Box Recipes - bake the Turban as a bowl.
Ingredients

1 medium turban squash, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped, 100g bread (broken into crumbs), 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed, 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped, 100ml double cream, salt and pepper to taste

1.Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 / 190 C /350 F

2.Slice the top off your squash and use a sharp knife and a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
3.Wipe the skin with olive oil and cover in foil, before roasting in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until soft (depends on the size of squash)
4.Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil for 5 minutes. Then mix in the cream, sage and breadcrumbs.
5.Being careful (hot!) scoop out most of the squash flesh, leaving enough to create firm sides to the skin of the squash, which will be your serving dish!

6.Mix the squash flesh with the rest of your filling and then scoop back into the squash. Top with the grated cheese.
7.Roast for a further 15 minutes, (no foil) until the stuffing is warmed through.

Hopefully, we'll need a bunch more recipes for Turban squash before winter arrives.


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