Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Squash Varieties

Our local food bank, the Sunshine Cupboard, is open once a month on the third Monday of the month. That's yesterday. I don't often have anything left in enough quantity to bring to the Food Bank, which is feeding 50 families at this time. But today I brought 31 small 12 ounce bags of mini squash medley from Sunday's and Monday's harvest. I could have sold them to Bon Appetit, but decided to donate instead. It's only once a month.

The photo shows the 12 varieties that I am growing this year. Actually there are 14 varieties, but 3 are plain green zucchini, and I haven't tried to distinguish which is which.

Patty Pan types (top left):
Starship (dark green), Sunburst (yellow), Peter Pan (pale green), Papaya Pear (yellow, shaped like the namesake fruits).

Top row - Round zucchini (top right):
Eight Ball (dark green), Floridor (yellow, looks like a lemon)

Bottom row - Zucchini:

Raven (dark green), Zephyr (yellow with green tip), Costata Romanesco (green stripes and ridges), Magda (light green, short, fat at the bottom), Butterstick (yellow), Sungreen, Cash Flow, and Revenue (medium green).

There are two more varieties that I like but didn't plant this year because I didn't have any more seeds: Geode is a round zucchini like Eight Ball, but a lighter green. Flying Saucer is pale yellow with green patches in the center, and points like a star.

My favorite of the ones that I am growing this year is Magda. It has a slightly sweeter flavor than the others. People are always asking if the different varieties taste different. They are all very similar in taste, though occasionally there are subtle differences.

The yellow varieties Sunburst and Zephyr are the most prolific varieties this year. Magda, Costata Romanesco , and Peter Pan are the slowest growing, and the least abundant. The quantity of each variety that I bring to market varies from year to year. Most produce about one fruit per hill per day, but the slow growing varieties may take two days or more for the fruit to reach my target harvest size.

Most of my seeds come from Johnny's Select Seed in Maine, and Territorial Seed in Oregon.

Many people look at these mini squash and ask, "What do you do with them?" We offer some preparation and serving suggestions:
- Rinse squash, cut off stem and any damaged spots. No need to peel.
-Steam or sauté whole, drizzle with oil or margarine & herbs.
-Grill whole, or cut into large chunks to grill on skewers
-Cut into chunks and stir fry in a tablespoon or two of oil with onion, garlic, peppers, eggplant chunks and/or corn. Add cherry tomatoes 2-4 minutes before the stir fry is ready.
-Sprinkle with oil and herbs; roast in the oven until tender.
-Marinate cooked or raw squash chunks in oil & vinegar or your favorite salad dressing and add to summer salads.
-Add chunks to lasagna or spaghetti sauce.

There you have it.


tiny banquet committee said...

I'm happy to read that you like the Magda! I just bought a couple of those at my local farmers' market in NYC and wasn't sure what variety they were, but based on your photo I'm certain that's what they are.

Tarah said...

Thank you for the above posting- like the above commenter, I was trying to identify squash varieties from my farmer's market and your pics and descriptions I now know! Thanks!

Pammer said...

I really appreciate that you put this diary on the web. I just purchased some squash and did not know what it was. I found your blog and am glad that you have recipes to try and now my squash is identified by your pics. Thanks a lot and also, I am from Metro Detroit, Michigan. Take care!

Gardenhoe said...

I am curious about the Papaya Pear Squash growth habit. Does it trail, or bush or a combination such as zuchinni?

Karen @ Pollinator Paradise said...

It's been a while since I planted papaya pear. I used to get the seed from Territorial Seeds, but they haven't carried it for a while. My memory is that it grows much like sunburst, a bush form and very prolific. When I googled the variety I found it at vesey's seed from Canada, and they say it's a semi -bush. http://www.veseys.com/ca/en/store/vegetables/squashsummer/specialtysquash/papayapear
Thanks to everyone for your comments! I should post more; I've had quite a few squash adventures this season.