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This item was last sold on : 01/07/16
Calabaza squash has a rounded to pear-like shape, and its exterior skin is hardened and often lined with large vertical ridges. When mature its rind can be mottled green to yellow-orange and is often striped or splotched with varying shades of green. Ranging in size from as small as a cantaloupe to as large as a watermelon, this squash can weigh between fifteen and thirty pounds. Its interior contains a yellow to orange flesh that surrounds a large, central seed cavity. The cooked flesh of Calabaza squash is smooth and fine-textured offering a sweet and nutty squash flavor similar to that of butternut squash. Like many squash and pumpkin varieties, the stem of the Calabaza should be kept intact post harvest in order to prolong the shelf life of the squash.
Calabaza squash is available in the fall and winter months.
The Calabaza squash, botanically classified as part of Cucurbita moschata, has developed dramatic variances in its shape, size and texture due to natural outcrossing as an open pollinated variety. The Calabaza squash is known as a tropical variety squash and thrives in warm and damp conditions. Some of the Calabaza squash's aliases include West Indian pumpkin, Cuban pumpkin, and Green pumpkin. It is an important crop today in developing countries and is grown predominately in tropical and subtropical regions throughout Latin America. In addition to being sold as a whole squash it is common today in the marketplace to find Calabaza precut into large chunks and wrapped in plastic.
Calabaza squash provides vitamin A and vitamin C, some of the B vitamins, thiamine, riboflavin, and is a good source of fiber. Calabaza squash also provides an excellent source of beta-carotene.
Calabaza squash can be cut in half, seeded and roasted as is or can be cut into wedges or cubes and prepared. Calabaza squash can be baked, steamed, roasted, grilled, braised or sautéed. Add cubed Calabaza squash to stir-fries, casseroles, curries and stews. Cooked Calabaza squash makes an excellent stuffing for enchiladas, quesadillas, empanadas, and tacos. When cooked and pureed its smooth texture is ideal for pies, puddings, breads, soups, and stews. It can be used in recipes where pumpkin is called for, but keep in mind its flesh is firmer and cooks more quickly. Its flavor pairs well with shallots, raisins, pine nuts, maple syrup, cumin, cinnamon, roasted poultry, brown sugar, orange zest, crème fresh, chili peppers, corn, lime juice, arugula, rice, and sausage. Keep whole uncut squashes in a cool dark place and use within a few months. Cut pieces of squash will keep wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to one week.
Calabaza squash is popular in Latin American cuisine. "Calabaza" is also the generic Spanish term for squash. In Mexico Calabaza is used to make candied pumpkin or Calabaza en tacha which is served as a traditional dessert on the holiday Dia de Los Muertos. In Puerto Rico Calabaza with a deep yellow to orange flesh is preferred over lighter fleshed varieties. Demand for Calabaza type squash from Latin American populations has increased in Florida and other parts of the United States the past thirty years. The Calabaza is luckily well suited to the climate of Florida and can be grown there year-round. Plant breeders in Florida have been working to breed new varieties of Calabaza that offer a shorter growing cycle and a higher yield of fruit that grow on more compact vines.
The Calabaza squash is believed to date back to pre-Columbian times and has long been a staple in Puerto Rican cookery. Today it is grown throughout the Caribbean, Central America, South America, as well as parts of Africa and North America. A tropical and subtropical annual, Calabaza are known for their long vines which creep along the ground to find warm and moist conditions. Calabaza plants are typically ready for harvest between ninety and one hundred twenty days of planting and will produce two to five fruits per squash plant. Like many squash types, they are not tolerant of cold weather and should be harvested before the first frost of the season.
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Recipes that include Calabasa Squash. One is easiest, three is harder.