Saturday Spotlight: Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash

When most people think of a pumpkin, they think of something that is orange, round, and could be carved into a jack-o’-lantern for Halloween. But my favorite ‘pumpkin’ isn’t really like that at all, even though it makes great pies, soups and muffins. It’s listed in most seed catalogs as Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash. But in the central Pennsylvania region in the U.S. where it’s popular, folks just call it a ‘neck pumpkin’. And that’s what I usually call it too.

Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash

Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash

To me, neck pumpkins resemble a butternut squash on steroids. The smooth tan skin and orange flesh certainly resemble the butternut, but neck pumpkins have an elongated meaty neck that can be either straight or curved, depending on growing conditions. These pumpkins can get up to 20 pounds in size, though mine tend to weigh in around 4 to 6 pounds. Which is still a lot of squash, anyway you look at it! Like its cousin the butternut, it’s also a great keeper.

young neck pumpkin blooming

young neck pumpkin blooming

The vines are quite long and vigorous, and need a fair amount of room to ramble about. Mine are quite happy climbing up the fencing around my garden.  This Cucurbita moschata variety is resistant to squash vine borers too, which makes it great for areas where the dreaded SVB is a problem. In my garden it has not had any issues with bacterial wilt either. Since both wilt and SVB are problems here, this variety has proven to be a dependable performer for me for the four years I have been growing it.

neck pumpkin ready for baking

neck pumpkin ready for baking

To prepare the squash for pie, it can be steamed, baked or boiled. I’ve tried all three methods, and I prefer cutting the squash into pieces, cleaning out the seeds, then baking in the oven. When it’s soft, remove from the oven and let cool before scooping the flesh away from the skin. The flesh can be pureed with a food processor, but I usually do it by hand using a potato masher. The puree can then be frozen for later use (canning is not recommended).

pureed pumpkin ready for use or freezing

pureed pumpkin ready for use or freezing

The thawed puree can be used in any recipe that calls for pumpkin or mashed butternut squash, like pies, breads and muffins, soups, and even filling for ravioli. It makes a wonderful pie, with a sweet flavor and smooth texture. My wife makes a great pumpkin pie using an old family recipe. Her version has an almost custard like consistency, and is a real treat for me whenever she makes it.

pumpkin pie made from neck pumpkin

pumpkin pie made from neck pumpkin

This heirloom squash makes for an easy to grow, versatile and tasty addition to the garden, and it will be growing here again this year for sure. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Saturday Spotlight, and I’ll be back soon with another variety. Until then, Happy Growing from Happy Acres!

To see my other Saturday Spotlights, visit the Variety Spotlights page.

 

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15 Responses to Saturday Spotlight: Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash

  1. Daphne says:

    I tried growing neck pumpkin in my last garden and it failed miserably. Now it probably wasn’t the neck pumpkin’s fault. I grew it the year of 2009 and I don’t know what your weather was like, but mine was in the 60s for most of June. It was so cold that year. Squash didn’t really have much of a chance to ripen. I haven’t tried it since. I now stick to the typical Waltham butternuts. It was developed in Massachusetts. I occasionally grow another Moschata (as SVBs are really nasty here), but so far haven’t found one I like as well.
    Daphne recently posted…SeedingMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      The neck pumpkins do seem to love the heat. I am trying Waltham butternut here this year. I’ve got more room to let the vines ramble, and I want to see how it performs in our typical hot and humid summer weather.

  2. Liz says:

    I agree with the butternut on steroids assessment – it looks great. We call all of orange fleshed squash varieties pumpkin here which I not sure whether makes things easier or more confusing….
    Liz recently posted…Saturday Spotlight – Wild RocketMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      Calling them all pumpkins probably makes more sense to me. Because that describes their use, more than their appearance. Here, most people think of orange skinned squashes as pumpkins. But ‘squash’ can mean a lot of different things too, depending on where you live.

  3. Diana says:

    I have been itching to grow this interesting pumpkin.
    But I am having problem with cucumber beetles that devours all cucurbit family members especially young seedlings.
    Good to know the puree frozen well.
    I have been doing a lot of pureeing for my baby food.
    Diana recently posted…Tamu TuaranMy Profile

  4. Susan Klein says:

    Hi Dave,
    Would you be willing to send me 4 or 5 of these seeds if I send a SESE? Was looking for them today, and couldn’t find the right variety. Also wanted to let you know how sorry I was to hear about the Cherry Tree. Shocking! I do think you handled it better than most people would have. Either that or you had ample time to cool off!
    Sue

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  7. Diane Yarbrough says:

    Had this crookneck squash last year grown in my daughter’s garden in Southeast Texas. It was fabulous – and loved the pies! Looking forward to this year’s crop!

    • Dave says:

      Diane, we love the ‘neck pumpkin’ here too. It is easy to grow, tasty, and is the standard by which we judge the other pumpkins/winter squash.

  8. Sheryl says:

    I bought an unusual looking “butternut” squash at a farmers’ market today. Even though it was labeled as a butternut by the producer, I thought that it was something else. I started searching the internet and found your site–and discovered that I actually have a Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash. I’m looking forward to trying it in some recipes.
    Sheryl recently posted…Old Coffee Pudding RecipeMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      It’s pretty distinctive looking once you know what it is. I hope you enjoy your ‘find’ – I know I enjoy the ones I grow!

  9. Mary Kaye Brown says:

    Can you cook this and eat it as a hot, buttery puree, such as can be done with butternut? Are the flavors similar.? I usually serve butternut this way for Thanksgiving, but my neighbor just gave more one of these crooknecks from her garden ( I know it’s late, but it’s California), and I’m wondering if I can use this in its place.

    • Dave says:

      Yes, it can be cooked up to a puree like you would a butternut squash, and the flavors should be similar. Who knows, it might be your new favorite Thanksgiving dish!

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