Squash guide

Squash guide

One of the great things about shopping at an independent retailer is that you can choose from a diverse range of fruit and vegetables, which supermarkets are unable to provide.

Take pumpkins. Most people are familiar with the orange fella, the heavy, round, toughed skinned plant that is carved up and often splattered onto the road on the 31st. But did you know that pumpkin is in fact a member of the squash family whose real name is Baby Bear? Or that squashes are in fact fruits? Because supermarkets only sell us one or a few varieties of squash, tomato, aubergine, etc., we continue to lose plant knowledge and genetic diversity; both of which may be important in growing and making use of hardier varieties capable of dealing with climate change. We think this needs to change!

Why do things need to change?

Supermarkets, to deal with long supply chains and the large volumes of customers that walk through their doors, have to limit their fruit and veg offerings to standardised, easy growing and easily transportable varieties. While efficient, these varieties, like the pumpkin, may not be the most nutrient dense or the best for the soil. Over the years, fields growing just one variety of crop erode the soil, which in turn lowers the nutrient content of the plant.

How?

Let us explain. The soil benefits from polyculture systems – multiple plants, flowers and animals grown in an area – as opposed to a monoculture systems, because these systems feed the soil with the nutrients, fertilisers (e.g. manure) and the root network required for below-ground animal life and fungi to thrive. The harmonious relationship between soil and plant productivity can only occur if we feed the soil a diverse, varied diet – just like our gut, which in turn benefits from polycultures because plants grown there are more nutrient dense.

What makes supermarkets unsuitable for the promotion of plant knowledge and genetic diversity?

Polycultures have a diversity of produce, many of which are wonky, they need access to local markets that don’t mind taking irregular fruit and veg, at irregular times – if it has been a dry summer October 31st may not be the right time to harvest pumpkin.

Because of supermarkets pursuit of profit, Halloween has become a commercial activity and led to the erosion of its cultural roots as a day of remembering the dead. If we were to introduce a diverse selection of squash into the supermarkets it would economically devalue ‘Halloween’. We wouldn’t be so interested in buying plastic spaghetti squash sweet buckets, or Turk’s Turban outfits (although, perhaps we would!). Instead we would be curious about where each squash came from and what we can do with it. We don’t get our customers asking for uniform shapes and familiar varieties – they love the diversity of produce that we provide. We provide novelty through our every changing variety of food – we don’t need gadgets and gimmicks to keep customers coming back.

So without further ado, please enjoy our nuggets of knowledge this month in the shape of this squash guide! Try something new and eat your way to a more sustainable food system!

Spaghetti

Spaghetti squash

Texture: stranded fleshy pulp 
Taste:
very mild, use as a base
Eating: best baked, roast, steam
Edible Skin: no
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: contrary to most other varieties, larger ones are more flavourful than the smaller ones

Crown Prince

Crown prince squash

Texture: rich, dense
Taste: rich, sweet, nutty
Eating: roast, grill, saute, soup
Edible Skin: yes, medium toughness
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: longest-storing squash (up to 3 months in the right conditions)

Gem

Gem squash

Texture: smooth and creamy when cooked
Taste: sweeter than most; nutty
Eating: baked, stuffed, boiled
Edible Skin: yes, tender when cooked
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: related to the ‘Butternut’ & ‘Pumpkin’

Baby Bear (pumpkin)

Baby bear_pumpkin

Texture: rich, dense, fleshy, moist
Taste: mellow, sweet, nutty
Eating: soup, roast, pie, puddings
Edible Skin: no, it’s tough
Edible Seeds: yes, raw or roasted
Info: retain shell & use as a soup serving bowl

Uchiki Kuri

Uchiki Kuri squash

Texture: firm, buttery
Taste: mellow sweetness; chestnut
Eating: soup, puree, cakes, bread
Edible Skin: yes
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: aka ‘Japanese’, ‘Hokkaido’ or ‘Onion’ Squash

Turk’s Turban

Turks Turban squash

Texture: firm
Taste: mellow sweetness; hazelnut
Eating: roast, steam, soup, stew
Edible Skin: no
Edible Seeds: yes, best roasted
Info: keeps well

Celebration

Celebration squash

Texture: firm, tender
Taste: mellow; hint of sweet potato
Eating: roast, bake (stuffed), puree
Edible Skin: no
Edible Seeds: edible, best roasted
Info: aka ‘Carnival’ Squash, a hybrid of ‘Delicata’ and ‘Acorn’ Squash

Gold Nugget

Gold nugget squash

Texture: firm, moist, smooth
Taste: pleasant nutty sweetness
Eating: bake whole or halved, roast
Edible Skin: yes, but tough
Edible Seeds: edible, best roasted
Info: aka ‘Oriental Squash’

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