When most people think of a pumpkin, they think of something that is orange, round, and could be carved into a jack-o’-lantern for Halloween. But my favorite ‘pumpkin’ isn’t really like that at all, even though it makes great pies, soups and muffins. It’s listed in most seed catalogs as Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash. But in the central Pennsylvania region in the U.S. where it’s popular, folks just call it a ‘neck pumpkin’. And that’s what I usually call it too.
To me, neck pumpkins resemble a butternut squash on steroids. The smooth tan skin and orange flesh certainly resemble the butternut, but neck pumpkins have an elongated meaty neck that can be either straight or curved, depending on growing conditions. These pumpkins can get up to 20 pounds in size, though mine tend to weigh in around 4 to 6 pounds. Which is still a lot of squash, anyway you look at it! Like its cousin the butternut, it’s also a great keeper.
The vines are quite long and vigorous, and need a fair amount of room to ramble about. Mine are quite happy climbing up the fencing around my garden. This Cucurbita moschata variety is resistant to squash vine borers too, which makes it great for areas where the dreaded SVB is a problem. In my garden it has not had any issues with bacterial wilt either. Since both wilt and SVB are problems here, this variety has proven to be a dependable performer for me for the four years I have been growing it.
To prepare the squash for pie, it can be steamed, baked or boiled. I’ve tried all three methods, and I prefer cutting the squash into pieces, cleaning out the seeds, then baking in the oven. When it’s soft, remove from the oven and let cool before scooping the flesh away from the skin. The flesh can be pureed with a food processor, but I usually do it by hand using a potato masher. The puree can then be frozen for later use (canning is not recommended).
The thawed puree can be used in any recipe that calls for pumpkin or mashed butternut squash, like pies, breads and muffins, soups, and even filling for ravioli. It makes a wonderful pie, with a sweet flavor and smooth texture. My wife makes a great pumpkin pie using an old family recipe. Her version has an almost custard like consistency, and is a real treat for me whenever she makes it.
This heirloom squash makes for an easy to grow, versatile and tasty addition to the garden, and it will be growing here again this year for sure. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Saturday Spotlight, and I’ll be back soon with another variety. Until then, Happy Growing from Happy Acres!
UPDATE: Sand Pilarski has a great recipe for pumpkin pie on The Piker Press, along with the backstory of how his family grew the ‘eating pumpkins’ as they called them and turned them into pie: Legendary Pumpkin Pie.
To see my other Saturday Spotlights, visit the Variety Spotlights page.
I tried growing neck pumpkin in my last garden and it failed miserably. Now it probably wasn’t the neck pumpkin’s fault. I grew it the year of 2009 and I don’t know what your weather was like, but mine was in the 60s for most of June. It was so cold that year. Squash didn’t really have much of a chance to ripen. I haven’t tried it since. I now stick to the typical Waltham butternuts. It was developed in Massachusetts. I occasionally grow another Moschata (as SVBs are really nasty here), but so far haven’t found one I like as well.
The neck pumpkins do seem to love the heat. I am trying Waltham butternut here this year. I’ve got more room to let the vines ramble, and I want to see how it performs in our typical hot and humid summer weather.
I agree with the butternut on steroids assessment – it looks great. We call all of orange fleshed squash varieties pumpkin here which I not sure whether makes things easier or more confusing….
Calling them all pumpkins probably makes more sense to me. Because that describes their use, more than their appearance. Here, most people think of orange skinned squashes as pumpkins. But ‘squash’ can mean a lot of different things too, depending on where you live.
I have been itching to grow this interesting pumpkin.
But I am having problem with cucumber beetles that devours all cucurbit family members especially young seedlings.
Good to know the puree frozen well.
I have been doing a lot of pureeing for my baby food.
Would you be willing to send me 4 or 5 of these seeds if I send a SESE? Was looking for them today, and couldn’t find the right variety. Also wanted to let you know how sorry I was to hear about the Cherry Tree. Shocking! I do think you handled it better than most people would have. Either that or you had ample time to cool off!
Sue, I sent you an email with the contact info.
Pingback: Saturday Spotlight on Sunday – “Italian Plain Leaf” Parsley | Suburban Tomato
Pingback: Monday Morning Recap | Our Happy Acres
Had this crookneck squash last year grown in my daughter’s garden in Southeast Texas. It was fabulous – and loved the pies! Looking forward to this year’s crop!
Diane, we love the ‘neck pumpkin’ here too. It is easy to grow, tasty, and is the standard by which we judge the other pumpkins/winter squash.
I bought an unusual looking “butternut” squash at a farmers’ market today. Even though it was labeled as a butternut by the producer, I thought that it was something else. I started searching the internet and found your site–and discovered that I actually have a Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash. I’m looking forward to trying it in some recipes.
It’s pretty distinctive looking once you know what it is. I hope you enjoy your ‘find’ – I know I enjoy the ones I grow!
Can you cook this and eat it as a hot, buttery puree, such as can be done with butternut? Are the flavors similar.? I usually serve butternut this way for Thanksgiving, but my neighbor just gave more one of these crooknecks from her garden ( I know it’s late, but it’s California), and I’m wondering if I can use this in its place.
Yes, it can be cooked up to a puree like you would a butternut squash, and the flavors should be similar. Who knows, it might be your new favorite Thanksgiving dish!
My deceased mother-in-law use to have long neck pumpkin sent down to FL from PA each year around the holidays. She would make the most delicious pumpkin pies with them. I never liked pumpkin pie until I tried hers and was the only pumpkin pie I would ever eat. I live in FL and have never seen long neck pumpkin grown here to my knowledge. Where could I get some? Also, would you be willing to share your recipe for long neck pumpkin pie? My mother-in-law would never give up her recipe for it. I would like to try and make it for my family. Thank you.
I have no idea where to find neck pumpkins, except maybe at a farmers market. They aren’t common around here in Indiana. Butternut squash can be used as a substitute though. My wife uses her old family recipe to make pumpkin pie:
Do neck pumpkins need to cure for a while or can they be eaten immediately?
Hi Kathy, I think neck pumpkins are better tasting after they have cured for several weeks in a warm place, much like you would cure a butternut squash.
I’m currently searching for a seed source for these amazing pumpkins. I grew up in Central Pennsylvania, and my dad referred to them as “Eatin’ Pumpkins” or “Gooseneck Pumpkins.” They do make the most sublime pumpkin pie. My article on the pie is here: http://www.pikerpress.com/article.php?aID=1066 and I plan on adding a link to your entry so the rest of the world doesn’t think I make stuff like that up. Cheers!
What a great article – thank you for sharing it! I will put a link in my blog to your article and recipe. The seeds for the Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash (aka Neck Pumpkin) are available at the Seed Savers Exchange (https://www.seedsavers.org/pa-dutch-crookneck-squash?custcol_sca_sizeweightqty=22). Lately I have been growing one called Turkeyneck which is even more productive and has a wonderful flavor. Seeds for it are available from NE Seed (https://www.neseed.com/shop/vegetable-seeds/pumpkin/turkeyneck-f1-hybrid-pumpkin-seeds/). Here’s a photo of what a couple of them looked like last year: https://i1.wp.com/happyacres.blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/turkeynecksquashsep182.jpg?ssl=1
Would you be willing to sell and ship me squash enough to make 2 pumpkin pies? I live in Florida and the only pumpkin pie I like is made with Pennsylvania Dutch long neck squash.
Sorry, but I didn’t grow them this year.
I found me seeds at The Mill garden store in Bel Air ,MD. It was sold as tan neck pumpkin
Thank you for this info. I have always lived in Central PA, and have seen the neck pumpkins mostly sold as decoration at the fall farmers market pumpkin stands.
I started a garden last year, and this year bought some neck pumpkin starters from a PA Dutch greenhouse. I have pounds and pounds of these guys! Tried my hand at cooking one off today, and used it to make muffins. Tomorrow it will be in our pancake breakfast!