One of the cultivars from the species Cucurbita pepo is the crookneck squash. Unlike winter squashes and pumpkins that usually spread, the crookneck squash is a bush-type plant. In some places, crookneck squash is known as yellow squash, in reference to the color of its skin. Inside, the flesh is almost the same color of orange or golden yellow. Its curved stem-end that resembles a crooked neck is the reason why it got its name crookneck. This summer squash is harvested while it is still immature. Ideally, when they reach the length of two inches in diameter, they are ready for harvest. Past this point, the skin toughens and the quality of the squash degrades while it matures.
Species: C. pepo
Binomial name: Cucurbita pepo
Cultivar: Yellow crookneck
Crookneck Squash Trivia
- Do not confuse the Cucurbita pepo crookneck squash from the crookneck cultivars of Cucurbita moschata (e.g. Golden Cushaw or the vining summer squash Tromboncino).
- If there is a crookneck squash, is there a straightneck squash? As a matter of fact, yes, there is!
Crookneck Squash Buying Guide
If you are used to buying crookneck squash with soft skin and come across one that has a rough, knobbly surface, it is perfectly alright. Some crookneck squash varieties have smooth skin while others have knobbly skin similar to bitter melon.
A good way to find out if a crookneck squash is ripe and ideal for cooking is by touching the skin. It should be tender; when you squeeze it, you can feel it yield slightly, but the tenderness should not be too soft to the point it is too mushy because this is not the kind of crookneck squash you want. Buy one with the stem still attached to it, since this will keep longer in storage.
Buying a whole crookneck squash is better compared to buying chopped crookneck squash wrapped in plastic wrap. Your local supermarket, grocery, or farmers market are the best places to go if you are looking for crookneck squash. Ask around if there are local growers or farmers growing crookneck squash. Visit them after harvest and buy directly from them.
Crookneck Squash Production & Farming in Texas
Crookneck squash can grow in the U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 10. This means it can grow anywhere in Texas. The hardiness zone spectrum covering Texas ranges from 6 to 9B. A crookneck squash will do well if you plant it in soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.8. It prefers full sun. It is ideal that the soil temperature is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit when you start planting, several weeks after the final frost. Make sure the soil drains well. If you see yellow and/or wilting leaves as well as holes in the stems, there is a problem in your plant. A healthy plant grows quickly and produces large green leaves. You can plant crookneck squash in your garden or a container.
Squash bugs and squash vine borers are two common pests that threaten crookneck squash.
- Squash bugs – The use of man-made pesticide carbaryl is the solution to rid of squash bugs.
- Squash vine borers – Use man-made pesticide carbaryl, broad-spectrum, pyrethroid-based insecticides like permethrin, or the pyrethroid insecticide bifenthrin to rid your acorn squash of vine borers.
Crookneck squash is believed to have originated in Eastern North America. Florida and California rank first and second when it comes to producing summer squashes, which includes crookneck squash.
Common to fruits and vegetables of the same size or larger, a crookneck squash is usually sold without any type of packaging, primarily because its thick skin and rind already provide it with a layer of protection, keeping the flesh inside safe from any potential contamination while out on display. In some stores or groceries, you will see whole or chopped crookneck squash individually wrapped in plastic wrap.
Enjoying Crookneck Squashes
The flesh of a crookneck squash is sweet. Some describe crookneck squash as having a rich, buttery flavor. You can eat crookneck squash raw, and the smaller ones are sweeter compared to bigger ones. You can eat the skin but if you find it tough to chew and not to your liking, you can simply peel it off before cooking.
If you taste something bitter from the crookneck squash, spit it out and throw the rest away. Eating bitter squash will result in toxic squash syndrome that causes gastrointestinal illness.
Use a perforated plastic bag when storing crookneck squash in the refrigerator, where it will keep for a week. Your best bet is 4 days of storage max before you cook it. Make sure that the crookneck squash is clean before you store it in the crisper.
It is sweet and thus used in sweet dishes. But since it is used as a vegetable, it is also used in savory dishes. You can use it for salads. Grated crookneck squash is used to garnish soups. You can grill crookneck squash, or steam it, fry it, even bake it. If you are thinking of what to do with your crookneck squash, consider these recipes: baked parmesan yellow squash rounds, crookneck squash and tomatoes, crookneck squash roasted in lemon and olive oil, garden-stuffed crookneck squash, or yellow squash casserole. There are many crookneck squash recipes available online.
Crookneck squash provides the body with energy. It has carbohydrates, dietary fiber, protein, vitamin B2, vitamin C, and potassium. Beta-carotene helps in slowing cognitive decline. It helps keep the immune system, hair, skin, and tissues healthy. The fiber helps maintain the health of our digestive system. Crookneck squash is good for those in a low-carb, low-calorie, zero-cholesterol diet.