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Tahitian squash is heavy, weighing anywhere from eight to thirty pounds at maturity. It has the appearance of a large elongated butternut squash with lengthwise furrowing and some crookneck shape tendencies. Its coloring is vivid like the fall colors of an aged orange maple leaf. Inside the Tahitian squash's hardened rind is a thick, firm, dry flesh with a rich golden color. The flesh contains an easily removable seed cavity conveniently located at its bulbous end. The smooth flesh has a very high sugar content and caramelizes as it cooks, its flavors becoming fragrant, nutty and sweet.
Tahitian squash is available from late summer to mid-winter.
Tahitian squash, also known as Melon squash, are botanically a part of the squash family Cucurbita moschata, and are a distant relative of the butternut squash. Tahitian squash is considered a storage squash, a notation that the squash will keep well into the winter months as a cellar vegetable. Even when cut the Tahitian squash should be kept on the counter, the cut end eventually healing up and sealing off naturally. This is an advantage of the Tahitian squash over many other winter squash varieties which are known to decay quickly and require refrigeration after cutting.
Like many orange-fleshed squash types the Tahitian squash is rich in beta-carotene.
Although the size of a Tahitian squash can be imposing when considering how to cook an entire squash for one meal, you can actually cut off what you need and leave the remaining squash on the counter. The cut surface will harden and seal, preserving the flesh. In fact, it is recommended that the squash is not refrigerated, as when chilled, the sugars in the flesh convert to starch. Tahitian squash can be used raw or cooked, though its flavors are far more intriguing when cooked. Tahitian squash can be baked, roasted, grilled, steamed or fried. Cubed and cooked Tahitian squash can be added to risotto, gnocchi, tacos, pizza, and ravioli. When cooked and pureed its sweet flavor will complement soups, curries, pies, puddings, sauces, bread, cakes, and muffins. Great companion ingredients and spices include apples, butter, ricotta, aged cheddar cheeses, nuts, pears, chiles, curry, rosemary, cinnamon, citrus, chorizo, bacon and poultry. An excellent keeper, the Tahitian squash will keep in a cool dry place for up to six months.
Though the official commercial introduction of Tahitian squash can be traced back to Thompson & Morgan Seed in 1977, it is believed seeds may have first been brought back to the United States from French Polynesia by grower and landscaper George Patton. Patton brought back seeds from a trip to Bora Bora and experimented with growing the unique squash in the Lucerne Valley, California in 1976.
The path of the Tahitian squash evolved from trade between the New World and Old World. It is believed that seeds from New World squashes were taken to the island of Tahiti where what would come to be known as the Tahitian squash was first cultivated. Its seeds would eventually make their way back to Europe and the Americas where the Tahitian squash would first be released commercially by British seed company Thompson & Morgan in 1977 under the name Melon squash. Its name in time would become Tahitian Melon squash, then simply Tahitian squash for short. The Tahitian squash requires much patience in growing, taking 120 to 160 days to mature, thus, the majority of a calendar year is dedicated to bringing it to harvest. For regions with shorter growing seasons seeds can be started indoors then transplanted when weather permits. Like most squash the Tahitian prefers a frost free growing environment with ample sun exposure.
Recipes that include Tahitian Squash. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Veggie's Don't Bite||The Ultimate Creamy Winter Squash Soup|
|The Kitchn||Brown Rice with Winter Squash and Cashews|
|Tasty Eats At Home||Tahitian Squash Risotto|
|Of The Dirt||Tahitian Squash and Drunken Apple Pie|
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