Heirloom Squash Seeds: Grow Long of Naples Winter Squash
Ribbon Winning Fun With This Stunning Squash
As I write, I am procrastinating at processing my prize winning Long of Naples winter squashes. These heirloom winter squash took several ribbons at our local fair this year, and the kids got lots of compliments on their entries. Now, the hard work comes, as the processing will involve cutting, seeding, baking, and freezing the pureé.
If you love to grow something unique for your fairs, or if you just love trying something new in your vegetable garden, I highly recommend this mammoth squash. My first year, I only really got one good squash, but it weighed in at 30 lb. I still have some of last year's puree left in my freezer.
Long of Naples is extremely viney, and demanding for space. I tried to grow it together with my pumpkins last year, and had some difficulty in losing my pumpkin plants. The extremely large leaves of the Long of Naples plant cover the squash, and it's often difficult to see where a squash may be growing. I tend to leave the plants be, until we've gotten through the worst of our hot Southwest summer. As my summer squash wind down, I get to looking for bigger squash, and carefully walk in the area and lift vines to look.
The Long of Naples plants this year were hogs for space, and crept over into my summer squash area. From two main mounds, planted with about 4 seeds each, I ended up having 5 big squash, ranging in weight from 19 to 24 lbs. I harvested them all for our fall fair, and the kids each entered them in the horticulture exhibits. At that time, I saw that another small squash had begun to form, and now, 3 weeks later, it is probably halfway to the size of our large prizewinning squashes.
Your success will, of course, depend on your own experience and knowledge, space, and weather conditions. Last year, I only harvested one squash, a 30 lb. beauty, pictured in this article during processing. I had much more success this year in terms of my harvest.
How do I process and preserve Long of Naples winter squash?
Long of Naples winter squash is nearly all flesh. I expected it to be like an overgrown zucchini, hollow all the way across, but it was not so. There is a larger, bulbous end, and this is the end containing seeds, about a third to a fourth of the length of the inside. The remainder is all flesh.
Carefully cut down the middle with a knife, and scoop out the seeds. I sliced into pieces to fit my roasting pans, and roasted in my oven for at least an hour and a half at 450 degrees fahrenheit. It took two roasting pans, and both racks in my oven, to process the entire squash. Test with a knife for tenderness, inserting into the cooked flesh...if it goes in easily, it's good to go. I allow my baked squash to cool, and then scoop the flesh out, and store in two-cup increments in freezer bags, labeled with date and contents.
You will have to research a bit, as pressure canning is possible with cubed squash, but not safe for pureéd squash/pumpkin. I have not (yet) tried the pressure canning, but am considering it with this year's crop.
Use the Long of Naples as you would other pumpkin or winter squash, in soups, pies, and other recipes. I will be hubbing about some of my uses in the coming months, as we make an effort to put our produce to use.