So many pumpkins. So little time…
Against the backdrop of this Israeli summer’s scorching heat, our warehouse is merrily filling up with an array of colors and shapes: it’s The Pumpkins. When we say pumpkins, we mean that slice of pumpkin you already got in your boxes, as well as the smaller hard squash which you receive whole. We’ve written about some of them: the elliptic spaghetti squash (orange, yellow or striped), the small green acorn squash, the orange kury squash (which you’ve received or will soon be receiving) that resembles a flattened droplet, the wonderful green kabocha, the light-orange-inside-and-outside mini Pam squash, and of course, the yummy creamy butternut.
In the early days of Chubeza, we used to seed our pumpkins at the end of winter towards springtime, and the hard squash in June (which I’d learned from my pumpkin-raising experience in California). This timing is right for the Americans who need their ripe pumpkins for October pumpkin fairs. But year after year, the Israeli reality would inspire a variety of viruses that attacked the gourds and celebrated wildly throughout the summer. As our crops dwindled and our dismay deepened, we grew fewer and fewer varieties of squash every year. From seven the first year, we grew four the second year, and fewer as time went on. Only after several of these failed attempts, we figured it out: our timing was altogether off. So instead of waiting and seeding the squash late, subjecting them to a life of suffering and battling viruses, we decided to seed them earlier like their sibling the great pumpkin. The decision turned out to be wise, and finally we are blessed with a fine yield.
This year we are growing nine different varieties of squash, large and small. This week and next, I’ll be telling you a little about the beautiful range of squash in our field.
Let’s begin with the two Japanese sisters:
The kabocha is a green squash, hard on the outside and sweet and orange inside. “Kabocha” is Japanese for any type of squash. The origin of the name comes from the squash’s journey from Mesoamérica to Japan. After the Spanish and Portuguese arrived in America and discovered the new fruits and vegetables of the land, they began distributing them to the next stops on their sailing itinerary. The squash probably arrived in Japan in the mid-16th century via Portuguese sailors who brought it from Cambodia. It was named Cambodia abóbor, which was eventually shortened to become kabocha. And thus, every squash in Japan is a kabocha.
The round green type portrayed in the picture above (which belongs to the buttercup squash variety) was developed and originally marketed primarily to Japan, which is why these types of squash were termed kabocha. Its orange flesh color testifies to its wealth of beta carotene (vitamin A), and this vegetable supplies a generous quantity of iron, vitamin C and potassium. The kabocha is similar in taste to the small green acorn squash. It is sweeter and drier than a regular squash or butternut, and some describe it as a combination of squash and sweet potato, with a chestnut-hazelnut taste. Either way, it’s best to stop talking and start nibbling on it. Kabochas are hard to carve, which is why they should be softened first by steaming or baking slightly (first punch holes in the rind to allow the steam to escape). Then it can be easily cut and seeded for you to proceed and prepare it to your liking.
The other squash you’ve already met in your boxes is the orange squash, resembling a plump raindrop. This is the Japanese squash called “kury,” Japanese for chestnuts. In France it’s called potimarron, and the Brits call it onion squash. It belongs to the buttercup group developed in North Dakota at the end of the 1920′s for the northern housewife to substitute for sweet potatoes (in pre-global village life). After a few years of cultivating this specie, Home Ec departments ran a battery of cooking tests, and a prominent panel of judges graded the texture, taste, color, sweetness, etc. Chemistry departments calculated its content of dry mass, compared to popular species. Our friend the buttercup won with flying colors. Its flesh is drier, sweeter and very rich, reminiscent of a cross between a pumpkin and sweet potato. It contains more protein than other winter squash and is rich in vitamins A and C. It can sit patiently in the pantry for two to three months.
Over the next few months we will begin to slowly “dispense” interesting and unique squashes and pumpkins. You need not use them up immediately. Place them on your kitchen counter for an ever-changing colorful parade of shapes and sizes. But once you cut a pumpkin, it must be stored in the fridge.
We will proceed with this colorful parade next week!
Hoping and praying that other parades, of destructive and painful nature, will cease, and that peace will reign. May we all have a week of quiet and tranquility, and may pain, destruction and fear be forever banned.
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Maya and the Chubeza team
WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?
Monday: Parsley, red potatoes, tomatoes, kury squash, onions, eggplant//fakus, cucumbers, leeks/scallions/chives, corn/ butternut squash, spinach/kale/lettuce. Small boxes only: cherry tomatoes
Large box, in addition: Thyme/sage, slice of Napoli pumpkin/melon, zucchini, Hilda pole beans/light bell peppers/okra.
Wednesday: parsley, red potatoes/slice of Napoli pumpkin, cucumbers, tomatoes, Kabocha squash/Acorn squash, onions, Hilda pole beans/light bell peppers/okra, eggplants, New Zealand spinach/kale, small boxes only: summer squash/zucchini, corn/melon,
Large box, in addition: green onions/chive, cherry tomatoes, dill/sage/thyme, corn and melon
And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, pomegranate juice and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!
Japanese sisers recipes:
Sweet and spicy roasted kabocha squash
Kabocha Squash (Pumpkin) Cheesecake with Graham-Lime-Walnut Crust
Baked Kuri Squash and Apple Maple Pudding (vegan!)
Thai green curry with red kury squash
And Melissa sent me a balsamic glazed acorn squash recipe, which “the former New Yorkers among us will enjoy, if only for the accent”…