My addiction to dried beans is matched only by my addiction to winter squash — their color, shape and patterning attracts my painter’s eye, and I find myself wanting to have one of everything. The small size of our garden limits us in what we can grow, however, the last Portsmouth Farmers’ Market for this season provided a wealth of choices. At White Gate Farm, Susan and RJ gave us an enthusiast’s tour of the over 20 varieties of squash they grew this year, giving names, a little of their history, and cooking suggestions. Here are just a few of the ones we couldn’t resist bringing home (left to right):
• Australian Butter (C. maxima): Australian heirloom pumpkin; firm, dense flesh; excellent for baking, especially pies; great keeper.
• Speckled Hound (C. maxima): Distinctive boxy shape and coloring; thick, dense, yellow-orange flesh with concentrated sweet, nutty flavor; often grown as an ornamental but excellent for eating.
• Queensland Blue (C. maxima): An Australian heirloom, also known as Australian Blue, Beaudesert Blue; meaty, fiberless, sugary, brilliant orange flesh; long shelf life.
• Long Island Cheese (C. moschata): East Coast heirloom; deep orange, moderately sweet flesh; known as a pie squash; good keeper.
• Musquée de Provence (C. moschata): French heirloom cheese pumpkin, also known as Fairytale, Potiron Bronze de Montlhéry; dense, fiberless, deep orange flesh; superb cooked, also traditionally eaten fresh — cut like wedge of cheese and sliced very thinly; very long shelf life.
• Fordhook (C. pepo): From the same family as the Delicata, thought to be extinct; also known as Fordhook Marrow or Oblong; thought to be extinct; grainy but not coarse, mildly sweet flesh; good shelf life.
Also (left to right): Marina di Chioggia from White Gate Farm, and Long Pie Pumpkin from Heron Pond Farm.
• Marina di Chioggia (C. maxima): Italian heirloom, also known as Chioggia Sea Pumpkin, Zucca Baruca, Zucca Santa; fiberless, sweet, dry flesh; excellent in soups and pastas (especially gnocchi, also ravioli, risotto); good keeper, flavor improves with storage. It seems difficult to grow true, but one of my favorites.
• Long Pie (C. pepo): New England heirloom, also known as Nantucket Pie; stringless, smooth, brilliant orange flesh; like its name, known as best for baking pie; ripens further in storage, increasing flavor; great keeper.
From Brookford Farm (left to right): Thelma Sanders, Red Kuri, and Native American Hidatsa.
• Thelma Sanders (C. pepo): Family heirloom from Thelma Sanders in Adair County, Missouri; also known as Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato; cream-colored acorn squash with thick, orange-gold flesh; tender, sweet, chestnut flavor; enormously productive; long shelf live.
• Red Kuri (C. maxima): Mini hubbard from Japan, also known as Baby Red Hubbard, Orange Hokkaido; very smooth, dry flesh with deep orange color; rich, sweet flavor; great baked for pies, skin is less tough than most squashes, so no need to peel when making pureed squash soup; — High Mowing
• Hidatsa (C. maxima): Native American heirloom from the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota; Hubbard-type or French pumpkin type fruit with reddish pink skin; thick orange flesh, very flavorful, outstanding for pies but also delicious by itself; excellent keeper.