I'm going to try butternut squash for the first time this year and I'm looking for the best varieties to try out.
Well, it kind of depends on what you want size wise. In terms of overall taste and texture, I personally don't see much difference between cultivars. All C. moschata squashes pretty much have very sweet, smooth, deep orange, somewhat moist flesh.
Size ranges from 2 or 3 lbs to as much as around 30. Personally, I like the great big ones, like 'Neck Pumpkin' from Pinetree Garden Seeds or 'Argonaut' Of course, it's hard to beat a 10 cent package of good old 'Waltham Butternut' from Wal-mart or a similar discount store for a return on the investment -- I planted those last year, and got over 120 squash ranging from 3 to 7 or 8 pounds each. Another good one is 'Long Island Cheese," which is a rounded, pumpkin-shaped butternut squash.
Denninmi, do they all store well? And do you have any ingenious tricks up your sleeve (that you want to part with) about how to prep them for winter storage?
Thanks for your advice.
Yes, I've found that they all store very well -- it's not uncommon for me to have some left in the basement from the previous year in the late summer as the new crop is approaching ripeness. In fact, I kept one for over 18 months, before offering it as a sacrifice to the goddess of butternut squash lasagna!
I don't do anything very special. Pick them in September when fully ripened and very hard. Usually, I have some unripe ones which are not as tan, and I try to use those first, or cook them up and put in the freezer. Very young, soft, green ones I slice up and use as zucchini -- why waste them? I usually put them in my unheated garage for about a month, and then carry them down to the basement for longterm storage. I only wash them off if they are extremely muddy, but since I cover my garden in 4 mil black plastic, this isn't usually the case. If they are just a little dirty, I just wipe them off with a rag when fully dry.
You really don't have to do much of anything with them after that point. I do try to keep them from touching each other, because some of them do start to rot sometimes in the winter, and this way they won't take any others with them. Usually, if you check them out every few weeks, you can find the ones which are starting to go bad, and cook them up before too much of the squash is ruined. Sometimes, one escapes me, and grows a fully, fuzzy blue mold coat like an orange -- this requires a plastic bag and some lysol spray for cleanup.
Also, some people wash their squash with a 10% bleach solution at harvest time. I have done this, it doesn't hurt anything, but I don't see that it makes much difference long-term in how well they keep.
I also usually throw the seeds from the squash out on the birdfeeder for the cardinals and squirrels, who really seem to relish them.
Right now in my basement, I have butternuts, acorns, pie pumpkins, and two regular pumpkins down in the basement, as well as potatos, sweet potatos, and a few onions.
According to Amy Goldman in her book on squash, the best butternut is the Canada Crookneck. This is the original butternut. It was grown by everyone back about 1900. It was enormously popular because of its superior taste.
But like everything else the scientists had to "improve" it and they wanted the neck more straight so they could put more squash into a box for shipping. The result was a slow road for 50 years to the waltham butternut. But of course the flavor suffered.
New England which used to grow tons and tons of Canada Crookneck now grows none. wiped out. extinct. The best tasting squash has been extinct where it grew in such abundance.
Now with a revival of the heirlooms the Canada Crookneck might make a comeback. I have looked for seed but never seem to find it.
If Canada Crookneck was better than Waltham, it must have been very good indeed because Waltham is awfully good. It's an excellent keeper too. I put the entire squash in the oven and take care of the skin and seeds after it is roasted and soft.
I'll be looking for Canada Crookneck. I hope it survived somewhere, but prospects are not good apparently.
slow day, a bit of googling tho'
Checkout link below
click on products - then click browse products - click on ancient traditional seeds - squash -
check out item, first on list.
Here is a link that might be useful: Little Pine's Native Heritage Place
Any thoughts on the best powdery mildew resistant variety? I have beautiful squash until the coastal fogs roll in in summer and every type I've planted has caught it and died soon after.
Ristau, great link! I know someone who ordered from there and was pleased. The Hopi Tan Squash fits the description of my Warsaw Buff Pie Pumpkin, only who knows how it could have ended up in Northern Indiana in the 1950s?!
All common beans, squash and tomatoes have to have indigenous origins. but we often lose track of their roots.
I might try that canadian crookneck and some of the others this year...I'm already getting excited!
When storing butternut, how low can the temps go. I want to store in my shed or garage, both unheated, thanks
As long as it stays above freezing, it is fine. If they freeze, they'll rot after they thaw out. So, I guess the answer is 33 degrees Fahrenheit. Here in Michigan, I can store them in an unheated garage most years until around Thanksgiving, then they have to come in to the basement, where temps hover in the low to mid 60's all winter.
Shishigatani is a pretty good variety of butternut, if you can get past its bumpy exterior.
Here is a link that might be useful:
Is this another name for the Canada crookneck??
Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash ( Cucurbita moschata )
Enormous fruits weigh 10-20 pounds. Very easy to prepare since the curved neck is completely filled tight with sweet dark orange flesh, great for pies. Just cut into rings and bake. Seed are all contained neatly in the bottom bulb of the fruit. 100-110 days. Seeds from SSE.