From Florida on up…calabasa!!!

 Calabasa leaf

I just wanted to share a little more about the veggies and fruits growing in our yard.  We’ve got calabasas, alongside tomatoes, and tomatoes alongside cantaloupe.  In this particular post, I’d like to discuss the growth of our first-born babies…calabasa!  It’s funny that although we planted the calabasa first, they’ve been the last to bloom.

Calabaza vine

Not too many folks in the US have ever heard of calabasa.  It’s the tropical version of squash, more like a pumpkin.  Some can grow up to 14lbs or more, more green  with lines when first harvested and tend to pale out after periods of storage in cool dark places.  Calabasa can be considered a winter fruit as well as a summer fruit, used in soups; salads; breads; desserts; and more.  They usually mature within 100-110 days, but some varieties now have a shorter harvest time.  Personally, maturation is independent to the gardener.  Depending upon use of chemicals and fertilization, a technique called “pinching”, location/climate, indoor/outdoor growing.

So, I guess you’re asking what interested us in growing  this extraordinary fruit…and I’ll explain why it’s so extraordinary in a minute.  While strolling  through our local ethnic market, we see this piece of something that resembles a pumpkin.  I was actually looking for pumpkin to go along with my friend’s favorite palm butter dish.   So, I grabbed a piece, substituted it as pumpkin and it worked great!  Seems to me, the only difference between pumpkin and calabasa is the color of the skin, that’s it.

Now, what’s extraordinary about the plant is its wonderful multi-uses greatly extending its harvest time.  Almost every part of the calabasa plant is edible.  From the beautiful yellow-orange squash blossoms, to the sweet pumpkin like fruit, even down to the edible un-bitter greens.  EXTRAORDINARY!  See?  And I have no idea why this plant can be considered tropical when it has a long harvest period in places ranging from Florida and as far north  as Massachusetts.   Calabasas can be grown anywhere pumpkin can.

English: A Pumpkin flower attached to the vine.

English: A Pumpkin flower attached to the vine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Patiently waiting for fruit…

Our cantaloupes have given fruit and the tomatoes are growing and flowering (still green, with yellow flowers), but still no calabasa fruit!  But, at this stage when growing calabasa don’t fret.  Still we can enjoy stuffed squash flowers, squash flower fritters, and garlicky sautéed green leaves.

Feel free to post any squash flower recipes and/or remedies…

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