Early Summer Crookneck Squash
(Cucurbita pepo) One of the oldest documented varieties of squash, said to have been given to colonial gardeners in the early 1700’s from the native Lenape people of the Delaware valley. Very popular with home and market gardeners alike.
Early Summer Crookneck Squash History
Crookneck squash, also known as yellow squash, is a cultivar of Cucurbita pepo, the species that also includes some pumpkins and most other summer squashes. The plants are bushy and do not spread like the plants of winter squash and pumpkin. Most often used as a summer squash, it is characterized by its yellow skin (which may be smooth or bumpy) and sweet yellow flesh, as well as its distinctive curved stem-end or “crooked neck”. It should not be confused with crookneck cultivars of Cucurbita.
Planting Early Summer Crookneck Squash
Summer squashes are generally very easy to grow and are a great choice for the beginner gardener. They’re one of the easiest vegetables to start from seed, and they do best when seeded directly into your garden soil. Squash likes soft fertile soil, but it will grow in most soil types. We have no trouble growing crookneck squash in our Georgia red clay, but dry, overworked soil will lead to poor production and disease problems. For the best results, prepare your garden for squash plants by mixing in 2-4 inches of compost or other appropriate garden soil amendments as needed.
Preserving And Storing Your Squash
Freezing Summer Squash: Choose young squash with tender skins. Wash and cut in ½-inch slices. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes; cool in ice water for at least 3 minutes. Drain and package into freezer bags or freezer containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. For frying: Follow the above instructions, but before packaging, dredge in flour or cornmeal, spread in single layer on cookie sheet and freeze just until firm. Package quickly into freezer bags or containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Grated zucchini (for baking): Choose young tender zucchini. Wash and grate. Steam blanch in small quantities 1 to 2 minutes until translucent. Pack in measured amounts into containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Cool by placing the containers in ice water. Seal and freeze. If watery when thawed, discard the liquid before using the zucchini. Click here to learn more.
Cooking With Squash
Summer squash are interesting little buggers. Unlike winter type squash, the whole summer squash can be eaten. Peel, seeds – everything. You can eat them raw, though they’re not super exciting unless really dressed up. You might see an individual squash labeled as “summer squash” but in reality the name is for a whole harvest. Zucchini, Yellow Summer Squash and Crookneck Squash are what I’m most familiar with. Though we treat and eat these guys as a vegetable, squash is actually a fruit. Click here for this amazing recipe.
Crookneck squash nutrition is characteristically very low in calories and fat but rich in health benefiting anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. 100 grams of raw fruit just carries 19 calories, almost the same as zucchini’s (17 cal). Besides, it holds no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is a good source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Do not discard summer squash skin. Fresh crooknecks carry relatively smaller amounts of vitamin-A than butternuts; provide about 150 IU per 100 g. Vitamin-A is important for cell growth and development, and for good vision. Its contains good amounts of flavonoid poly-phenolic pigment antioxidants such as carotenes (90 μg-lutein, and zeaxanthin-290 μg).Together with vitamin-A, these pigment compounds work as antioxidants in scavenging harmful oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the body.
Fresh crookneck is a very good source of vitamin-C (19.3 mg or 32% of RDA /100 g) than that in zucchinis. Vitamin-C is essential for collagen synthesis in bones, cartilage, and blood vessels, and aids in the absorption of iron. 200 grams of fresh squash provides 19 µg or 5% of RDA per 100 gm of folates. Folate is one of the necessary element involved in cell division and DNA synthesis. Adequate folates in the diet is necesary during early pregnancy to prevent neural-tube defects in the newborn baby.
As in other summer squash varieties, crookneck squash nutrition also feature less sodium (2 mg/100 g) but high potassium (222 mg/100 g), an important intra-cellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte and helps bring the reduction in blood pressure and heart rates by countering pressing effects of sodium. Moreover, it has good amounts of other B-complex groups of vitamins like thiamin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc and traces of selenium.
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