Which winter squash/es do you consider to be the best for flavor, sweetness, storage and any other characteristics you think are important?
And which are just so-so?
I grow an heirloom from Indiana (Warsaw Indiana), called Warsaw Buff Pie Pumpkin (WBPP). It is like a large variable shaped butternut. Fruit is variable shaped, but very good flavor and texture (dark orange color, absolutely no fiber & sweet), with more dry matter than most butternut (in my opinion and limited experience). Fruit size is between 3 and 8 lb. This squash keeps for nearly a year, retaining good eating quality for a longer time than many others.
Most importantly it's very resistant to insects, especially vine borers.
We also grow an acorn squash called Scarchuks Supreme. It's good for an acorn, but of course, it doesn't keep that long. All acorn squash are best eaten within two months of harvest. But we like this one for flavor and it was specially developed for resistance or tolerance of squash vine borers. Acorn squash are stringy compared to butternut and Warsaw Buff Pie Pumpkin. But they are very good prepared like... an acorn squash! Don't try to make pie out of an acorn squash. We tend to harvest and eat our acorn squash before the other winter squash. My wife stuffs them with meat and potatoes and each half suffices for a light meal.
We raise a Mexican squash called Calabaza de Castilla. It's a rampant grower which can produce LOTS of very large fruit. It's main virtue is hardiness. The fruit's texture is coarse compared to the WBPP.
We love some of those c. maxima varieties, like Hubbard and Buttercup. But they don't seem to handle the insects (especially borers). Whenever we grow them it's more or less and experiment.
I've rambled! It's good to see some activity on this forum!
For best flavor and sweetness, I prefer Sweet Dumpling. Makes pretty good pies, but I think it is at its best when stuffed. It's not a great keeper, but it is small enough to fit in the freezer. Break off the stem, cut the pointy bottom off of the squash, & take out the seeds. Put both pieces of squash back together in a freezer bag, and freeze. When you want stuffed squash, just thaw it out, stuff it and microwave for 4 mins. The skin peels right off. It's very delicious.
For pies, I usually use Buttercup. I find Buttercup to be a great keeper.
For pumpkin bread, I usually use half New England Pie Pumpkin, half Neck Pumpkin (sort of like a Butternut with a very long neck). The texture and flavor of those 2 together really makes an excellent pumpkin bread. New England Pie Pumpkin is very vigorous, produces abundantly, and seems to be quite disease and insect resistant. Neck Pumpkin is a great keeper if stored like potatoes.
If you are looking for zucchini-like flesh in a winter squash, I recommend Connecticut Field Pumpkin. I can't tell the difference between batter fried Connecticut Field Pumpkin or batter fried zucchini. Excellent in the middle of the winter. Extremely vigorous, healthy vines. Good producer.
You might want to check out Cornell's Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website.
Here is a link that might be useful: Cornell's Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners
"If you are looking for zucchini-like flesh in a winter squash, I recommend Connecticut Field Pumpkin. I can't tell the difference between batter fried Connecticut Field Pumpkin or batter fried zucchini. Excellent in the middle of the winter. Extremely vigorous, healthy vines. Good producer."
When you say that you fry Connecticut Field Pumpkin and mention that it's excellent in the middle of winter I wonder whether you mean you fry it mature or immature. I'd also like to know how it's stored. That's some great info!
Connecticut Field Pumpkin is best used mature, though it can be used immature like summer squash. Here, it almost never completely ripens on the vine, so it is usually mostly green when picked except for an orange spot on the bottom where it touched the ground. It usually takes about a month in storage to completely ripen. Store it just like potatoes, in a cool, dry, dark area.
The flesh of the ripe pumpkin is spongy like zucchini. My understanding is that is usually grown for animal feed, but we find that it is good people food, also.
My family likes batter fried zucchini and although it can be frozen for use in the winter, we find it's easier to just grow and store Connecticut Field Pumpkin. We cut it in thin slices, let it sweat between 2 paper towels for an hour, batter it with onion ring batter, and fry it.
THe sweet dumpling already mentioned is one of the Delicata squash, all of which are good keepers, in my opinion, they actually get sweeter a couple months into storage.
Dumpling is the smallest, i'd say the bigger delicatas would last longer, I ate my last one in January and wished i had more.
Sorry, didn't realize you were in Z9, I harvest in late sept/early Oct here, so they last 4-5 months here in my 45 degree underground garage.
The best for storage and flavour are Buttercup, Kabocha and the varieties from Australia and New Zealand, Jarrahdale, Queensland Blue and Whangaparoa Crown. Butternut also stores well and tastes good.
Hubbard and Flat White Boer stored very well also, but I did not like the flavour as much.
I've grown: Buttercup, Butternut, Acorn, Sweet Potato, Dumpling and Mini Hubbard. And thus far my favorite is Butternut. It has a thin skin, small seed cavity and sweet not too dry flesh. Last year from 17 vines I harvested approx 75 squash many over 10 lbs (I grew them organically using okara and seaweed as fertilizer). I start them about now inside and move them outdoors in a month. I harvest them after the first light frost in November.
Our favorites for flavor are two hybrids from Johnny's seeds, Confection and and Cha-Cha. They are drier than most, smaller seed cavity, very good, intense flavor, and they will both keep, easily, 6 months. Another one that does surprisingly well here is Maria di Chiogga, the Italian heirloom.
However, we have particular growing conditions with very cool nights in the low 50's, and day time temps in the 80's - 90's with a short 100 day growing season, all irrigation water, very arid climate.
George! Oh my gosh, I about jumped out of my seat when I read about the Warsaw Buff Pie Pumpkin squash! I live about 15 miles from Warsaw, Indiana and I've never heard of this squash, please let me know where I can find it. It would be wonderful to grow!
My favorite, hands down, is Sweet Meat. It's dense, flavorful and an amazing keeper. Stores easily until March and April. I'll post photos below:
Here is a link that might be useful: My garden pics of SWEET MEAT Winter Squash
I am trying Sweetmeat this year, so I'm glad to see it comes highly recommended.
My all time favorite is Amish Pie. Excellent flavor, textrue and storage qualities. It's March and I just used my last one. Oh, and against the rules of GW, I have seed if anyone is interested. Contact me from my page.
We're huge fans of Small Wonder, a small spaghetti squash. My mom was very 'meh' about Spag squash until I invented this: cut the squash in half lengthwise. Fill cavity with blue cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, olive, and a touch of balsamic vinegar. Bake at 350 till squash is done. now she keeps asking if it's time for spaghetti squash!
Do you know why SweatMeat is so popular in the PNW area and little known elsewhere? Is it particularyly suited to your growing conditions? I picked up some seed on a recent trip to seattle and plan on growing it here in Atlanta this season. Hope it works out as well for me as for you! Give Boz a big hug from me and my two French Bulldogs, Remy and Ari.
Oops! And a hug for Gracie too!
I'd agree about the Australian blues, where I live the most common pumpkin is a very similar one to those and the flesh is dry, dense and really good flavored. I shared seed of it with someone in Washington and he says he won't use another one for pies again. The only thing is that bugs do tend to like them - with their hollow stems they seem perfectly designed for squash borers and if you have squash bugs in your area you'll want to be vigilant.
Butternut and its ancestors like "Pennsylvania Dutch" with the long curved necks are really great all-purpose squash and they produce well too.
One bunch that hasn't been mentioned here are the asian squash. Bungkan, Futtsu and the various types known as "Kabocha" are really delicious. I grew Futtsu last year and will not be without it again! The squash are not too big, great for a single meal, very good keepers, and ornamental too. They get sweeter after they go light orange. You can eat it raw, grill it, or fry it. Another friend cuts it up into stews. Even the leaves are beautiful, almost an ornamental.
This year I'm growing Triamble, Table Queen acorn, Pennsylvania Dutch, Bungkan, Winter Keeper, Futtsu and Seminole. Triamble and Seminole are firsts; Seminole is also supposed to be really delicious, and has the extra interesting feature of being able to climb into trees. I'm growing it alongside a big apricot tree that died over the winter, in a long raised bed with rich soil. Planting the seeds at the far end, I'll let them run over the surface and root as much as possible before turning them into the tree. The fruits are supposed to be very hard, medium size, round and tan, with deep orange flesh.