A right of passage for any allotmenteer is a summer glut of courgettes. Heirloom varieties such as Parador are great to grow for flavour rather than the traditional green variety.
Winter varieties, under the catch-all term "Winter squash" are actually three varieties within the curcubita family: Maxima, Pepo and Moschata.
Curcubita Maxima contain the some of the most best-rated pumpkins and squashes, such as Crown Prince, Zucca da Marmellata and Queensland Blue.
Curcubita Pepo contain some of the most beautiful pumpkins, which are grown more for size and looks than flavour. This group include the Jack-o-lantern pumpkins.
Moschata Curcubita is an different variety to the previous two, containing the Butternut Squash varities. These are favoured by supermarkets as they store well, are easy to peel, but sadly flavour is sacrificed for convenience.
Pumpkins don't store as well as other winter squash, which when properly cured can keep for months. The longer winter squash is cured the more the starches are broken down and converted into sugars.
Pumpkins need room to grow, up to four feet, and bush varieties needing 2 1/2 feet so perfect for allotment growers who have to space to grow lots of varieties.
Most squash benefit from limiting the numbers of fruits per plant.
From Rowley Leigh’s A Long and Message Business, see images above
- 1 pumpkin 2-3kg
- ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground white pepper
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- 100g Gruyere or similar
- Six slices of white bread, cut into cubes and fried in butter
- 200ml single cream
- Firstly cut a small hole in the top of the pumpkin, and keep the lid. Cut it the usual way you make a lantern, at an angle so that the lid will sit in the pumpkin.
- Scrape out the seeds and fibres but leave the flesh and season with the spices and salt and pepper.
- Fill the pumpkin with grated cheese, croutons and cream. Add the lid, wrap up the pumpkin in foil, place in a oven-proof dish and put in a 200 C degree oven for two hours.
- When the time is up, take the dish out of the over and leave to rest for ten minutes, gently take the lid off and carefully scrape the pumpkin flesh in to the cream, cheese and crouton mixture, taking care to not cause a leak!
- If you have a stick blender you can, with care, blend the mixture into a smooth soup, otherwise you can whisk it together.
As well as soups, you can pickle pumpkins, they roast and mash well as a dish for roast dinners and make great curries.