Each year, the summer brings a bevy of new vegetables, including the rich array of tempting varieties of Chubeza’s squash and pumpkins. This ensemble comes in green, yellow, orange or beige, dotted and striped, smooth and coarse, round, oval, pear-shaped, pinecone-shaped, pointed, flat, small, large, and even extra-large. What a field day for the lovely, colorful curcurbitas (Latin for the entire gourd family), all so beautiful and tasty!

This year we grew five different squash varieties, from the giant Tripolitanian pumpkin which can neatly transport a shoeless princess, through the medium-sized Napolitano pumpkin, the sweet butternut squash, the oh-so-orange Amoro squash, all the way to the compact, fits-in-the-palm-of-your-hand green acorn squash. This broad range spans varieties that differ on the outside and within, varying in colors from green to yellow to salmon and dark orange, in texture and in taste – neutral, delicate, nutty or sweet.

They began to trickle into your boxes over the past few weeks: acorn squash, a pair of green butternut squash, the orange-hued Amoro pumpkin, or a sumptuous slice of Napolitano pumpkin. Afterwards, it’s time to greet the Big Mama – the immense Tripolitanian pumpkin that’ll remain with us all the way to winter.

Coming up is the season of many small pumpkins, which you will receive nearly each week. If these quantities seem overwhelming, fear not! We remind you that you needn’t use them right away. We’d rather send these pumpkins to you now, because here at Chubeza, crowded by the hundreds, they have no breathing space. But in your homes, on your kitchen counter or in a wicker basket in the living room, they’ll keep beautifully while enhancing your décor with a flair. If you keep them dry and ventilated, they’re good for another month or even two! If they start growing a thin spider-like web, just wipe it away with a dry cloth to prevent rotting.

The bigger and the smaller pumpkins (also known as winter squash) as well as summer squash (including zucchini) belong to the same botanical genus and even to the same species. The differentiation between squash and pumpkins is artificial, relating to the stage at which they are picked and how they are used by human beings. All varieties are seeded (in an open field, in their natural season) from late winter/early springtime, and grow from spring to late summer.

The zucchini are picked early, before they fully ripen, when their skin is thin and their seeds are undeveloped, sometimes as early as 40 days after seeding. Since we pick the fruits from the plant before it had time to produce fertile seeds, the plant makes additional attempts, yielding more and more seed-bearing fruit to fulfill the aim of all plant-life (and animal-life): to spread its genes. Thus, we gain a long harvest season from a plant that just keeps on yielding. The young, tender zucchini varieties do not keep for long, which is why in the past they were only eaten during their natural season, in spring, summer and early fall. Today, zucchini is also grown in wintertime in hothouses, thus no longer seasonal.

In contrast, pumpkins (large and small) are picked as they ripen and mature, when their shell is thick and hard and their seeds are quite large and hard (and crackable). Since we wait till the ripening is complete, they are harvested some three to five months from seeding day. Our giant Tripolitanian pumpkin often makes us wait patiently up to half a year. Their hard shell preserves these yummy pumpkins, sometimes for many months, enabling them to be eaten in wintertime as well. This offered a particularly significant advantage in the pumpkin’s ancestral home of North America in areas where it is too cold to grow food during winter. Pumpkins were easily stored in silos, adding sweetness and a summery zest to the cold wintery days. Hence the name for the small pumpkin varieties – winter squash.

Here are some family members that you have already met this season:

The acorn squash originates in Mexico and the U.S. where Native Americans cultivated early varieties. The dark green type which we grow was introduced in 1913 and enthusiastically received, thanks to its excellent taste as well as its small size and thin shell, a great relief for those battling the huge, hard pumpkins until then. In the U.S., where some may be dining alone, it makes a popular serving-for-one as well as an ideal stuffed vegetable.

The acorn squash really does taste delicious. Named for its acorn-shape, its shell is dry and somewhat sweet and nutty in taste. The acorn squash’s sweetness enables this beauty to go very well with piquant – olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs – as well as sweet flavors, with a gentle brush of honey or date honey. The ridges lining the fruit make it somewhat difficult to peel, but the good news is that you really don’t have to! It’s great to eat right in its shell. And if you still need to eat this squash shell-less, remove the shell only after baking or cooking when it’s a cinch to slip off.

The acorn squash contains more vitamin C and calcium than other squash or pumpkin varieties, and less vitamin A. If you treat it kindly, it will keep for a few months, decorating your tabletop, but its flavor will ebb. So let it adorn your countertops for a week or two, and then whisk it straight to the oven and onto your plates!  

The butternut squash was most likely developed in the 1940s by an amateur gardener (neither a farmer nor scientist) named Charles A. Leggett as he experimented in species cultivation in a small quarter-acre garden near his house in Stowe, Massachusetts. Eventually, Leggett took the fruit of his experiment to the nearby Waltham R&D Field Station to show them what he’d developed. They loved it! He named his baby “butternut” because he thought it was smooth as butter and yummy as a nut. It arrived in Israel in the 1980s, where it received the cutesy name “dalorit.

The butternut squash is usually fond of a hot, humid tropical climate. More than her sisters, the butternut really can’t take cold weather, which may be why it is the most popular of Israeli squash varieties. The first butternuts were chubby-looking (with seed-filled bellies), sporting very long, sometimes curved necks. Over the years, other variations were developed, some with chubby and shorter necks and a small seed cavity to provide a uniform vegetable demanded by the market. Like zucchini, butternuts can be picked at an earlier stage, and they’re very tasty when young (some say even more than regular squash). They’re fun to grow in a home garden, where you can pick some to be used as summer squash and allow others to ripen till they become the genuine butternut.

The butternut’s smooth shell makes it easy to peel with a simple vegetable peeler. It is sweet and its pulp becomes soft after cooking, although some claim that baking makes it better. The butternut is very rich in vitamin A, and under good conditions can be kept for six months (but how could you resist?).

The Amoro pumpkin (who was surely named by a love-struck fella or gal) is an orange, round and flat squash boasting a proud little rump. She belongs to a prominent group we already know: the Kabocha clan, or Japanese pumpkins (which some call Hokkaido).  Their defining characteristics: all are thick and bumpy on the outside, very hard to peel, and have relatively dry meat.  

Kabocha” is Japanese for pumpkin. The origin of the name comes from the pumpkin’s journey from Mesoamérica to Japan. After the Spanish and Portuguese reached America and discovered the new fruits and vegetables of the land, they began distributing them at upcoming stops on their sailing itinerary. The pumpkin probably arrived in Japan in the mid-16th century via Portuguese sailors who brought it from Cambodia. It was named Cambodia abóbora, which was eventually shortened to become kabocha in Japan. And thus, every pumpkin in Japan is a kabocha, which is also the name of this particular group of pumpkins.

The kabocha’s orange flesh testifies to its wealth of beta carotene (vitamin A), as well as providing a generous quantity of iron, vitamin C and potassium. It is similar in taste to the acorn squash, but hard to carve, which is why it should be softened first by steaming or light baking (first punch holes in the rind to allow the steam to escape). Then it can be easily cut and seeded, so you can proceed to prepare it to your liking.

What’s green on the outside, orange on the inside, cylindrical and very long with pumpkin seeds? Meet the Napolitano squash! Chubeza has been lovingly growing it for some years now. It’s sweet and tasty and can be sliced crosswise into thick slices, sort of like a loaf of bread…

This is a vintage heritage squash which has not ceased to please, and even appeared in the illustrated Vegetable Garden book by Vilmorin  back in 1856, which describes the popular garden vegetables of the era.  Despite the passage of years, the Napolitano has not lost its vitality, and is widely grown in Europe and Israel. It’s Italian by birth, as you may have already guessed (thus it can also be used as a threatening gangster weapon, should the need arise).

The Napolitano’s shape resembles a huge butternut squash – with a wide bottom and narrow “bottleneck,” but sometimes it can reach one meter in length! Napolitano weighs between 7-15 kg, sporting a texture similar to the butternut: smoother and more condensed than a regular pumpkin, with a delicate sweetness. She also resembles the butternut, filled with fiber and seeds. If your slice originated in the seed section, use the bonus seeds well, but if you received a “neck” slice, this is seed-free. Both are yummy!

Napolitano is well-loved in southern Italy where it is cooked along with hot peppers, eggplant, tomato, pears and plums in a seasonal soup called Giambotta, or fried and served with various dressings. The seeds are great for noshing, roasted and salted.

The vibrant kaleidoscope of varied-shaped and colored pumpkins is just one example of Nature’s matchless artwork. Sometimes human artists try their hand as well. So, for dessert – here’s a lovely, crazy pumpkin sculpture by pumpkin-loving Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama:
Wishing you a calm week. Drink lots, and don’t overdo it in the sun!

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Orin, Einat and the entire Chubeza team



Monday: Amoro pumpkin/acorn squash/melon, beets/eggplant, New Zealand spinach/kale, cherry tomatoes, squash/zucchini/bell peppers, potatoes, corn, parsley/coriander/nana, tomatoes, cucumbers/fakus, edamame/okra/ short Iraqi lubia/green beans.      

Large box, in addition: Lettuce/basil, leeks/fresh onions/chives, slice of pumpkin/butternut squash.

FRUIT BOXES:  Mangoes, grapes, nectarines. Large box: Larger quantities of all the above, plus plums/lychee.

Wednesday: Amoro pumpkin/acorn squash/melon, beets/squash/zucchini/bell peppers, fresh onions/eggplant, New Zealand spinach/kale, potatoes, corn, parsley/coriander/nana, tomatoes, cucumbers/fakus, lettuce, leeks/chives/basil.      

Large box, in addition: Edamame/okra/ short Iraqi lubia/green beans, cherry tomatoes, slice of pumpkin/butternut squash.

FRUIT BOXES:  Mangoes, grapes, nectarines. Large box: Larger quantities of all the above, plus plums/lychee.