Crookneck Squash

With an unusual shape and a bright soothing yellow color, the Crookneck Squash stands out to be the best summer squash. It is a cultivar from the Cucurbits family and an heirloom which is easy and fast to grow and mature. The plant grows to a maximum height of 8 inches, although the 6 inches ones are more prevalent. The neck of the vegetable is slightly bent and hence the name.

While selecting Squash one should look for the firmness and heaviness according to the size. Avoid any squash with bruises, nicks or soft spots. Crookneck Squash can be crossed with other summer squashes, pepper squash, and jack ‘o’ lantern pumpkins. They don’t cross with melons or cucumbers.

Scientific Name

Cucurbita pepo

Interesting facts

  • There are traces found as back as 8000 BC of this crop being cultivated in central Mexico, parts of Peru and the eastern the United States
  • Back then for the Central American and South American civilizations, Squash was a staple food along with some other crops. The great Mesoamerican civilizations like the Aztecs and the Maya laid their foundations based on these crops
  • Two of the most notable founding fathers and later presidents of The United States namely George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were so fond of these squash that it became the primary vegetables in their gardens
  • Latin Americans make delicious candies out of these squashes
  • Squash is actually a native American word from the Narragansett language and the actual word is Askutasquash meaning eaten raw or uncooked

Other Names

  • Crooknecks
  • Yellow squash
  • Summer Squash

Cultivation

All the crops of the Cucurbits family love summer. They best grow in that season and cannot tolerate frost at all.

Although the seeds can germinate in 15 degrees C they display the best results in 29-32 degrees C. They grow best at a temperature of 23-29 degrees C during the day and 15-21 degrees C at night. These plants can tolerate drying tenures but a very long dry spell can result in poor fruit development. Sandy loamy soils are suitable for the plants and other well-drained soils are also suited. They can also grow well on clay soils, but the harvesting becomes little difficult as the soil is often wet and the fruits become dirty

Harvesting

These are generally harvested when immature and are few inches in diameter. This is because the skin becomes rough and toughens and the quality degrades when they mature. They are best harvested all summer long.

Health Benefits

Crookneck Squash is full of water and very low of calories with the presence of important Vitamin and minerals such as Vitamin A, C, Iron, and calcium.

Low calorie & carbohydrates

The vegetable is exceptionally low in calories containing 20 cal approximately and a medium-sized containing 30 cal approximately. It is because the carbohydrate content in this yellow squash is relatively low. A cup serving containing only 4 grams. It’s good for those looking to cut their calorie intake while gaining other nutrients.

Low fats & cholesterol

Crookneck Squash is almost cholesterol free with little fat content. A small version contains about 0.2 gm of fat and a medium one contains 0.4 gm. Cooking of the vegetable by grilling, baking and steaming without adding any fats is healthy. These are good for people with weak heart conditions or for someone concerned about having good cardiovascular health.

Good source of dietary Vitamin C

Including Crookneck Squash in your diet helps you with you Vitamin C content which is essential to form collagen.

  • Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and is present in the connective tissues and the skin. It is good for smoothening wrinkled skin and eradicating other aging factors.
  • Vitamin C plays a stronghold in supporting the immune system by fighting with infections
  • A small sized Crookneck Squash or 1 cup serving contains about 19 mg of vitamin C
  • The Vitamin C as ascorbic Acid acts a natural antioxidant fighting oxidizing agents in our body
  • Consuming it can cure a fatal disease known as the Scurvy

Iron & Folate

The main source of Iron and Folate are animal products like meat and eggs. These vegetables are an alternative source if you want to skip taking animal products. A slice of Crookneck Squash contains approximately 0.5 mg iron and 35 mg Folate. Our body requires a normal amount of iron and Folate to maintain the red blood cell productions thus preventing Anemia which is very common in Women. Folate plays an important role during pregnancy as it is beneficial for the fetal brain and nerve development

Potassium

It is one of the most essential nutrients for the functioning of our body. A human body can live without a few vitamins for some days but a deficit of potassium can be fatal. It is regarded as the backbone for the proper metabolism of the heart, brain, kidney, and muscles. It plays a vital role in controlling blood pressure and preventing any chance of a stroke. It also helps in preventing water retention in the body by maintaining a good balance of fluids. A slice of the yellow squash or 1 cup serving contains about 276 mg of potassium

Carotenoids & Lutein

Yellow vegetables always have a good amount of carotenoids and it is because of these strong antioxidants that the vegetable gets the color. The carotenoids are responsible for fighting free radicals formed in the body caused by pollution and chemicals and also prevents the body from oxidative stress

Lutein, on the other hand, a naturally occurring carotenoid is a type of eye vitamin which is essential for preventing eye diseases especially the macular degeneration, cataract, and retinitis. Consumption of Crookneck Squash can also prevent cancers like Colon cancer and breast cancer and also type 2 diabetes.

How to cook?

The Crookneck squash a part of the summer squash harvest is smoothing yellow and bright perfectly suiting the season. The smaller ones which are 4-6 inches give the best taste and can be refrigerated for not more than one day

  • The seeds are soft and sweet and therefore can be either taken out or left as it is
  • To remove excess water, the vegetable should be salted for 15 minutes before cooking it and then dried
  • Only because this vegetable has got high water content other dry heating methods like grilling, sautéing and stir-frying can also be used  to prevent it from getting mushy
  • Other methods like glistening with sauce also known as shimmering, deep frying or baking are suitable
  • A popular dish prepared with the crookneck squash sprinkled with the olive oil and bit garnering of lemon juice. Start roasting it until it turns into a slight shade of brown and then enjoy the mix of the flavors!

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