by Penny Dodd
My introduction to this little squash was a few years ago in southern France at the home of some gardening friends. Unfortunately, the only squash they had left was tiny and very shriveled up.
But when it was cut open, its fragrance was irresistibly nutty. My French friends called it potimarron which they explained was a portmanteau of the French word potiron (pumpkin) and marron (chestnut), and a good description of the flavour. I had to grow some seeds from that tiny squash.
￼Next spring my three seeds all sprouted and grew beautifully. I anticipated the wonderful flavour I would enjoy. Somehow that summer, I must have turned my back on the squash patch for a week, and when I looked again, the vines had gone through the fence, overwhelmed the raspberry patch and run into the Caragana hedge. Needless to say it produced about three fruit, none of which matured. Oh well, I consoled myself, southern Alberta is not southern France.
But I never forgot the mouth-watering fragrance of the potimarron.
In addition to seed catalogues, my winter reading often includes cook books. Imagine my amazement last winter on finding a recipe that called for red kuri, also known as potimarron, squash. Further research—why didn’t I do this long ago—revealed that potimarron is more commonly called red krui or Hokkaido squash. In England it is also called onion squash because of its shape.
According to some seed catalogues it is a type of Hubbard squash. And the seeds can be purchased from almost any seed supplier. Needless to say, I bought more seed.
This summer I kept my eye on those vines. And I was ruthless. They were aggressively pruned as soon as some fruit were set. The fruit matured and ripened in the garden, producing a wheel barrow full of the cutest squash you will ever see. The largest weighed 5 pounds, but most are about 3 pounds.
And the flavour? Various friends and family say they are delicious baked and served with a bit of butter. But I am disappointed. I will go back to growing a buttercup type; maybe there will be ‘Sunshine’ in my garden next year. My consolation now is thinking the potimarron is too cute to eat.