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The Papaya squash is known for its unique shape which resembles that of a pear or papaya. The coloring of its skin too is similar to that of papaya, vibrant yellow with speckles of white and green. Its skin is delicate enough to consume and need not be peeled prior to use. Encased by that vibrant skin is a creamy yellow to white flesh that offers a tender texture and delicate, sweet summer squash flavor. Its flavor and texture will be at their ideal state when the Papaya squash is approximately three inches in length and two to three inches in width.
Papaya squash is available mid-summer into early fall.
Papaya squash is a summer squash variety botanically classified as a part of Cucurbita pepo and a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Sometimes referred to as “papaya pear” the Papaya squash is a relatively new variety of summer squash. Its namesake is a nod to its unique shape and coloring which is reminiscent of that of a pear or papaya.
Similar to that of other summer squashes Papaya squash are known for their high water content. Additionally they contain some vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and folic acid, most of which is located in the vibrant yellow skin of the squash.
Papaya squash can be utilized in recipes that call for summer squash or zucchini, in both raw and cooked preparations. When sliced it can be sautéed, steamed, grilled or fried. Thin slices of raw squash can be added to sandwiches and salads or it can be grated and incorporated into coleslaw or batter for quick breads and fritters. Layer sliced squash into lasagna, casseroles, enchiladas and ratatouille. Larger more mature Papaya squash is an ideal shape for use in stuffed squash preparations, simply hollow, stuff with fillings and then bake, roast or steam. The delicate summer squash flavor of the Papaya squash marries well with a plethora of ingredients such as other summer crops like tomato, eggplant, garlic and chile peppers, with fresh herbs such as oregano, mint, basil and cilantro, with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pine nuts, sausage, grilled meats, shellfish, browned butter, tangy goat cheeses and hard cheeses such as parmesan and asiago. For ideal texture and flavor Papaya squash should be kept dry and refrigerated and used within a week.
In the United States the Papaya squash was selected as a 2003 All-American Selections winner. A not for profit organization, All American Selections has reviewed seed grown vegetables and flowers since 1932 in efforts to introduce easy to grow, high quality varieties to the commercial marketplace.
The Papaya squash is a newly developed hybrid variety of summer squash created in 2001. Developed by Seminis Vegetable Seeds its parentage is that of a Cucurbita pepo F1 hybrid. Fairly quick to grow, it is typically harvested about forty days after sowing the seed. The Papaya squash grows in a semi-bush habit and is compact in size growing only to approximately three feet in height and four feet width making it ideal for home growers that are limited on space. Like many summer squash varieties it is easy to grow provided it is given full sun and will be a prolific fruiter.