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Crown Prince Squash
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Crown Prince squashes are large, round to ovate fruits, averaging 25-35 centimeters in diameter, and have a flattened shape with shallow ribbing. The rind is firm, dense, smooth, and ranges in color from silver to blue-grey. Underneath the surface, the flesh is bright orange, dense, waxy, and dry, encasing a central cavity filled with moderately sized, flat, cream-colored seeds. Crown Prince squashes hold their shape well when cooked and develop a tender, soft consistency with a honey-sweet, nutty flavor.
Crown Prince squashes are harvested in the fall and can be stored through the spring.
Crown Prince squashes, botanically classified Cucurbita maxima, are a unique winter variety that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Considered to be one of the longest storing winter cultivars, Crown Prince squashes are highly revered by consumers for their dense flesh, smooth texture, and sweet and nutty flavor. Crown Prince squashes are not commercially cultivated, but they have become a well-known variety in local markets around the world for their unusual grey coloring. Due to the variety’s large size, Crown Prince squashes are often sold in wedges at markets to provide consumers with a more manageable size for culinary use. They are also a popular variety grown in home gardens. Gardeners favor the squash’s consistent flavor, highly productive nature, extended storage capabilities, and ornamental nature.
Crown Prince squashes are a good source of beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that creates the orange pigment found in the flesh and can be converted into vitamin A within the body. The squashes also contain fiber, which can help regulate digestion.
Crown Prince squashes are best suited for cooked applications such as roasting, sautéing, boiling, and grilling. The dry flesh holds its shape well when cooked and also develops a smooth and creamy consistency when mashed. Crown Prince squashes are popularly sliced into wedges and roasted to create a caramelized, tender texture, and once cooked, the flesh can be stirred into risotto, mashed as a side dish, or tossed into a salad. The flesh can also be incorporated into soups, curries, and stews, baked into muffins and pies, or kneaded into gnocchi. In addition to the flesh, the seeds can be cleaned, roasted, and consumed as a crunchy snack. Crown Prince squashes pair well with nuts such as walnuts, pecans, and pine nuts, honey, ginger, cheeses such as goat, blue, and parmesan, crème fraiche, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, radicchio, parsley, and thyme. The squash can be kept for 3-6 months when stored whole in a cool and dark place with good air circulation. Once sliced, wedges of the flesh can be kept loosely wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
In the United Kingdom, Crown Prince squashes were presented the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 2011, which is a title given to varieties that exhibit quality growth characteristics and flavor. This award was created to provide home gardeners a list of researched, trialed, and favored varieties that grow well in the United Kingdom’s climate. Crown Prince squashes are also highly endorsed by well-known horticulturalist and writer Joy Larkcom. With its dense flesh, exceptional flavor, and extended storage capabilities, Larkcom frequently advocates for home gardeners to grow the variety each season instead of the more common squash cultivars.
Crown Prince squashes were developed in New Zealand and quickly spread as a home gardening variety to Australia. While the exact date of origin is unknown, the variety is believed to be a relative of the kabocha squash and also spread to Europe, especially to the United Kingdom, where it became a widely cultivated specialty variety. Today Crown Prince squashes are found at local farmer’s markets in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the United States. The variety is also available through online seed catalogs for home garden use.
Recipes that include Crown Prince Squash. One is easiest, three is harder.