Never heard of cushaw? I am not surprised. I had not heard of it either until I moved to Louisiana. Its a wonderful and easy to grow squash with similar taste and texture to pumpkin.
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Cushaw squash (Cucurbita argyrosperma) is a Native American winter squash that is striped green and yellow or green and white. Hailing from Northern Mexico, this delicious squash is similar to a pumpkin. The flesh is whitish yellow and very mild.
My seeds came from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds, Cushaw. Plant seeds about 1/2 in into warmed soil well after the threat of frost has passed. Like pumpkins they need a lot of space. Mine did very well vining along the fence. The only problem with letting them trellis is that they get heavy and can be an issue for the vine though mine held up pretty good. They make an excellent companion in the three sisters garden. Cushaw will start to produce fruit around 95 days later.
These vines grow large, thick stems and enormous leaves. Be sure to consider any plants you may have planted below or around these vines as they can block out the sun pretty well. They’re prolific with good sunlight and neutral soil. The vines travel along any trellis and are pretty sturdy. My vines were strong enough to hold up 17 lbs cushaw without any issues. I do have some issues with the squash vine borer but these held up better than most of my other squashes. They like the heat but have a little trouble with direct late afternoon sun, the leaves droop a little regardless of water. Cushaw can be thirsty though so keep that in mind when considering a watering schedule.
Harvesting and Curing
Like most winter squash, you can wait until the stems have dried. However, I found that the plant produced more if I picked them at peak color, regardless of the stems. Once they were harvested, I put them in a dark, cooler area without direct sunlight and let them cure for several weeks. They are similar to the other winter squashes you may recognize such as butternut, pumpkin and acorn in that the skin will harden. In my experience, the skin has never been as hard as a butternut. I have been able to get a fingernail in unlike others but they have not ever rotted and have been in storage for months.
Cooking with Cushaw
Many people use cushaw in place of pumpkin in pie recipes. This recipe is pretty good and tasty. I use them as a meat supplement. For example, for taco night I will have ground beef with shredded cushaw cooked up together with spices and no one ever notices the difference. I also use it in other savory dishes, especially ones with spice, such as chicken curry and shredded into sauces for pizza and spaghetti night. The might flavor is very easy to mask and readily holds the different flavors.
What squashes do you like to grow?
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