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Heirloom squash differs from regular squash in quality and age. An heirloom squash must come from very old seed, generally 1951 or earlier. Additionally, to be considered heirloom, a squash should be open-pollinated, meaning it is pollinated by birds, animals, insects, or wind. It must also have an appearance and taste superior to that of modern squash. There are many different types of heirloom squash, including the Pink Banana, Turk's Turban, Ebony Acorn, and Black Zucchini.
The Pink Banana squash was first planted in 1893 and became a popular food for American pioneers. These squash can grow from 18 to 24 inches (45.7 to 61 cm) long and typically weigh about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) each, although some have been reported to grow up to 75 pounds (34 kg).
Turk's Turban heirloom squash is named for its round, beige bottom and brightly colored orange and red top. This durable squash was introduced sometime before 1800, and generally weighs about 5 pounds (2.3 kg), with a 10 inch (25 cm) diameter.
Ebony Acorn squash is said to have been introduced by the Arikara Indians. The squash is typically only about 2 inches (5.1 cm) long. The skin is black and ridged, while the flesh is yellow and sweet.
The Table Queen squash, introduced in 1913, resembles the Ebony Acorn in appearance. It has a dark green, ridged outer skin, with a sweet, dry, orange-colored flesh. This variety of heirloom squash is often used in baking.
Fordhook Acorn squash is an 1890 heirloom from W. Atlee Burpee. The rare, white fruit is ridged and resembles an acorn as it hangs on the vine. Black Zucchini was introduced in 1931. This heirloom squash grows on spiny, compact bushes, and is dark green in color. This zucchini is narrow and long, with crisp yellow flesh.
Burgess Buttercup squash came from the Burgess Seeds Company in 1932. It is usually an easily stored winter squash, typically 8 inches (20 cm) long and weighing between 3 and 5 pounds (1.4 and 2.3 kg). The skin is dark green, streaked with white stripes, and the flesh is yellow, dry, and sweet.
Green Hubbard heirloom squash came to the U.S. in 1798. J.H. Gregory, a famed seed salesman, obtained the seed in the 1840s from a Massachusetts woman named Elizabeth Hubbard, which is how this squash got its name. The fruit is typically 10 to 20 pounds (4.5 to 9.1 kg), with greenish-brown skin and textured yellow flesh.
@heavenet - If you enjoy the flavor of heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables, you should try to grow some of your own. Heirloom garden seeds are often available from local growers, or though vegetable seed catalogs. It is exciting to watch the plants grow all summer long, and rewarding to harvest the fruits and vegetables in the fall.
Every summer I buy heirloom butternut squash from my local farmer's market. I think this variety has better flavor than the type you find at most grocery stores. I also like the peace of mind in knowing that it is grown by someone who takes the time to grow produce naturally.
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