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Delicata Squash

Winter squash comes in many different types, one of which is the delicata squash, a cultivar of Cucurbita pepo. This particular winter squash was named so because its skin (or rind) is delicate compared to other types of winter squash which have sturdy rinds.

Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Cucurbita
Species: C. pepo
Binomial name: Cucurbita pepo
Cultivar: ‘Delicata’

Delicata Squash Trivia

  • Delicata squash was in danger of disappearing during the Great Depression because, during this difficult time, no one wanted to grow a crop that is susceptible to mildew disease.
  • The primary commercial cultivar sold by seed companies today was created by the Department of Plant Breeding in Cornell University, known as Cornell’s Bush Delicata. Among its qualities is being resistant to many different kinds of squash diseases. In 2002, it won the prestigious seed industry award All-America Selection (AAS).
  • You should be aware of the other known aliases of the delicata squash: peanut squash, Bohemian squash

Delicata Squash Buying Guide

If you are in the market looking for delicata squash, remember that this kind of squash is cylindrical and that it has distinctive green stripes breaking its cream, yellow, or golden orange skin. If you are unsure, it is best to seek help from store attendants to know which ones are delicata squashes, especially if there are lots of different kinds of squashes on display and being sold there.

Delicata Squash Production & Farming in Texas

There should be minimal to no problem at all with regards to growing delicata squash. Just make sure that the danger of frost has passed. It usually takes approximately anywhere from 80 to 105 days before you can expect to start harvesting delicata squash. If you plan to grow delicata squash, you can choose between a vinous or bush variety depending on the space you have for planting this type of squash, because the delicata squash plant can grow as high as 12 inches and can spread outward as far as 28 inches. You can also choose whether to sow directly or sow indoors for a later transplant. Both are ok with delicata squash. Make sure to plant your delicata squash where there is plenty of sunlight. 

In Texas, the ideal planting window for delicata and other squashes begins in the middle of March until the first week of May.  If you are looking for a fall harvest of delicata squash, start planting in mid-July until the first week of September.

Pesticides:

Listed below are the common threats to squashes and pest management control that includes the use of pesticides.

  • Aphids – Kill aphids using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. You can also use the pesticide malathion, which is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the United States, or rotenone, a selective, non-specific insecticide typically used in home gardens for insect control.
  • Cucumber Beetles – The use of man-made pesticide carbaryl or Beauveria bassiana is the solution to rid of flea beetles.
  • Cutworms – Pesticides such as carbaryl will kill cutworms attacking your spearmint. Pyrethroid insecticides like cyfluthrin and the insecticide permethrin are also useful for this purpose.
  • Leafminers – Use spinosad against leafminers.
  • Spider mites – To get rid of spider mites, use neem oil and apply it through foliar spraying. It contains azadirachtin which is effective against spider mites. You can also use horticultural oil (which also targets aphids and thrips). Pests die after exposure to horticultural oil due to suffocation since the oil blocks the spiracles through which insects breathe. Another effect of horticultural oils is disrupting the metabolism of insect eggs. Lastly, horticultural oils disrupt the insect’s ability to feed. As a result, the insect starves to death. Using pyrethrin spray is also an effective method against spider mites. Another option is spinosad, a mixture of two chemicals called spinosyn A and spinosyn D typically used to control a wide variety of pests.
  • 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.
  • Thrips – To kill thrips, there is a wide array of options to choose from: horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, anti-parasite spray spinosad, or pyrethrin pesticides with piperonyl butoxide.

Geography:

The delicata squash is indigenous to North America and Central America, grown and cultivated by Native Americans who were responsible for introducing this type of squash to the European settlers who came to the continent.

Packaging:

Delicata squash is not commonly grown in a large-scale commercial production although many local farmers grow it, sold in small quantities in local farmers markets and farm stands. Expect these to be sold without any type of packaging, primarily because their 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 supermarkets or groceries, it is not uncommon to find squashes covered in plastic wrap.

Enjoying Delicata Squashes

Among those who have experience cooking delicata squash, they would probably recommend baked delicata squash with meat or vegetable stuffing or filling. You can also have this roasted, sauteed, or steamed. If you are in a hurry or working a bare minimum kitchen, microwaving delicata squash can also produce delicious and filling food.

Winter squashes have hard rinds or skins, making them unsuitable for eating. Delicata squash, despite being winter squash, has a tender rind you can eat.

Storage:

After harvest, the next step is curing your delicata squashes. It will take one week. Make sure the storage is warm and dry. 

The downside of having a soft or tender rind is that delicata squash cannot keep for long compared to other winter squashes. At best, a delicata squash can keep for 4 weeks, although it is not surprising that delicata squash can last for as long as 3 months given that the storage condition is ideal – a cool, dry area with a temperature of 50-55 F.

Cooking: 

Delicata squash is an exciting ingredient to use in the kitchen because you can cook it alongside different kinds of vegetables, meats, herbs and spices, and other ingredients. It has a naturally creamy flavor that is noticeable even with very few ingredients used in cooking. It is easy to cook and it has an excellent texture that makes it enjoyable to eat.

A cooking tip: to store this for longer, cook your delicata squash until it is soft. Scoop it out and put it in freezer bags and store it in the freezer. 

Nutritional Benefits:

If you are looking for beta carotene, this is not the best source among squashes. However, delicata squash has fiber and potassium, as well as vitamin B, vitamin C, magnesium, and manganese.

Nutrition

DV%

  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 76
  • Carbs: 18g 6%
  • Sugar: 6.8g
  • Fiber: 5.7g 23%
  • Protein: 1.8g
  • Fat: 0.7g 1%
  • Saturated Fat: 0.1g 1%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 2.1mg 0%
  • Vitamin C 33%
  • Vitamin A 214%
  • Calcium 3.5%
  • Iron 5%
  • Potassium 494mg 14%

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