For the last few years, I’ve been growing a different kind of squash that combines the eating and keeping qualities of both winter squash and pie pumpkin. It’s an heirloom called Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash, but more commonly called a ‘neck pumpkin’ by it’s many fans. And you can definitely count me as a fan!
This squash resembles a butternut squash on steroids, with smooth tan skin and a long meaty neck that can either be straight or curved. The blossom end bulges out into a bulb shape that contains the seed cavity. They are excellent keepers, and the fine grained flesh is great for pies, soups and side dishes. The squash can grow up to 20 pounds in size, but mine have been running more in the 3 to 6 pound range. The three squash in the below photo weighed almost 16 pounds, with the largest coming in right at 6 pounds.
The vines are vigorous and rambling, so this plant is not for small gardens or growing in containers. This Cucurbita moschata variety is resistant to squash vine borers, and seems to be unaffected by the bacterial wilt that affects so many of my squashes every year. And it has held up well in our drought this year, getting by with minimal watering. In other words, it’s a tough plant for tough conditions, which makes it a real keeper in my book.
To prepare the squash for pie, it can be baked, steamed or cooked in a kettle. I like to cut it into pieces and then bake it in the oven. Once done, the flesh can be scooped away from the skin and pureed. The puree can then be frozen for later use. Please note it is not recommended to can mashed or pureed pumpkin any more.
It looks like we will have a total of 7 neck pumpkins this year, weighing in probably around 28 pounds. Last year we had about 7 pounds of them, so we have quadrupled our harvest this year. Since we have so many – more than we could possibly use for pies or breads, I will be trying them out in recipes that call for butternut squash, like ravioli for instance. Like butternut squash, the flavor improves with storage, so I will wait a bit before processing any of these.
I won’t be saving seeds from this years crop though, since I did nothing to isolate the blooms from all the other squashes we had growing. Seeds are available from several sources, including Seeds Savers Exchange, Reimer Seeds, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (where I got mine).
If you want to see bumper crops from other gardeners around the world, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of the Harvest Monday series. And Happy Growing to you all!