Bright Orange Squash

by Jane H.
(Bemidji, MN USA)

I love to raise pumpkins, squash and gourds, and my favorite in this category is the red Kuri, also known as a Hokkaido pumpkin. Although squash are said to originate in South America, this one is definitely associated with Japanese culture. I discovered it while researching vegetables suitable for a macrobiotic diet, which my renter followed as an alternative treatment for cancer, and have raised it off and on ever since.
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It is a brilliant orange in color and makes a beautiful fall decoration, especially as part of a harvest themed centerpiece. It is also ideal for cooking and mashing, as any stray bits of skin are the same color as the flesh and won't be noticed.

Kuri squash is easy to raise. After the soil has been prepared and after frost is not expected, plant it in raised "hills", a few seeds in each. The plants can be thinned later. Squash requires quite a lot of room to grow as the vines spread. Although squash need well-drained soil, they also need moisture to produce fruit. Kuri is a squash that does quite well in partial shade. The season is quite long but Kuri should do well in areas where buttercup or butternut squash can be raised.

I've prepared Kuri in many ways including baking and boiling it and as a puree for casseroles. It is also good stuffed. Recipes include soups and breads as well, and some people say the seeds are delicious roasted. It freezes well. When I sold my excess produce, Kuri was the first squash to be bought. The color seems to attract customers. There is also a blue Kuri squash called Kabocha in Japanese. Its skin is blue gray in color, a bit thicker than the skin of red Kuri, and the flesh is sweeter.

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