Ever heard of an Askutasquash? No it isn’t a large furry giant that lives in the forest (that’s sasquatch), it’s actually the original Native American word for the produce we know and love as “squash,” and it means “eaten raw or uncooked.”
(Thanks Library of Congress for that awesome fun fact!)
Squash of all types (Butternut, Acorn, Zucchini, PattyPan, Stripetti, Spaghetti) are a staple in AHO boxes in summer, fall and winter.While a love of all things squash might seem like a product of the amazing Pintrest recipes for squash breads and dinners of every kind, we are not unique in our love of squash. In fact, squash has a long history in our country. You can even find a recipe for squash pudding in one of the first cookbooks published in the US (Amelia Simmons published it in 1796 -see a few excerpts of it here!)
Squash is actually a cucurbit. A cu-what?? Cucurbit or Cucurbitaceae, is the scientific term for plants within the gourd/pumpkin/squash family. The Cucurbit family includes several species of squash, cucumbers, watermelon and many other plants (even two species of Loofah- yes, crazy I know!) and this group represents some of the earliest known cultivated plants in the Americas (we’re talking thousands of years).
Native to the Americas, Squash was well cultivated for both consumption and for use as food and storage tools (gourds were commonly used as drinking cups for example) when European explorers arrived. Fascinated by these fruits Europeans brought them back to to their homeland and records of their presence in Europe has been documented as early as the 16th century.
Crazy about Cucurbits? Well you can get up-to-date news on developments in this plant species at the Cucurbit Network (Yes, its real, and it’s pretty cool!)
Of course we all associate pumpkin pie with Thanksgiving, where the Europeans and Native Americans came together to celebrate the harvest, and pumpkin pies are also a staple around the Christmas holidays. But did you know that the filling commonly used for pumpkin pies is actually taken from the Cucurbita Maxima which is technically a squash, not a pumpkin? (Thanks Texas A&M Ag Extension for that fun fact!) The fruit that we typically recognize as the traditional pumpkin (think Halloween pumpkins) is the Cucurbita Pepo species and these are more closely related to produce like the Pattypan squash we know and love from our boxes. Well now you have one more food fact you can share with the family at the dinner table this year!
Check out some of the AHO Kitchen’s Favorite Squash recipes: