“Squash” comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw or uncooked.”
Squashes are one of the oldest known crops–10,000 years by some estimates of sites in Mexico. Since squashes are gourds, they were often also used as containers or utensils because of their hard shells. The seeds and flesh later became an important part of the pre-Columbian Indian diet in both South and North America. De Soto, Coronado, and Cartier all saw “melons” (probably squash) in the Americas.
Northeastern Native American tribes grew pumpkins, yellow crooknecks, patty pans, Boston marrows (perhaps the oldest squash in America still sold), and turbans. Southern tribes raised winter crooknecks, cushaws, and green and white striped sweet potato squashes. Native Americans roasted or boiled the squashes and pumpkins and preserved the flesh as conserves in syrup. They also ate the young shoots, leaves, flowers, and seeds.
Virginia and New England settlers were not very impressed by the Indians’ squash until they had to survive the harsh winter, at which point they adopted squash and pumpkins as staples. Squashes were baked, cut and moistened with animal fat, maple syrup, and honey.
Squashes come in many different shapes and colors including tan, orange, and blue. There are many kinds of squashes, all part of the genus Cucurbita (Family Cucurbitaceae). The terms pumpkin, winter squash, and summer squash have been applied to fruits of different species.
Fun Facts about Squash:
• For pie, Pilgrims first hollowed out a pumpkin, filled it with apples, sugar, spices and milk, then put the stem back on and baked.
• One of the first published recipes for pumpkin pie (Pompkin Pudding) was in Amelia Simmons’ 1796 cookbook, American cookery. This is the first cookbook to be written by an American and published in the United States.
• An average pumpkin weighs 10-20 pounds, though the Atlantic Giant variety can weigh 400-600 pounds, enough for perhaps 300 pies!
• Presidents Washington and Jefferson grew squash in their gardens.
• Squashes are a good source of minerals, carotenes and vitamin A, with moderate quantities of vitamins B and C.
And why is the game also called squash? It used to be called “Rackets” and a “squashy” soft ball constructed of thin rubber was used. It had a number of holes that caused the ball to collapse when hit hard.
Hey kids! Have you ever made homemade butter? It’s fun and fascinating and you can add your homemade butter to your holiday feast! Here’s how to do it!
• heavy whipping cream
• 1-cup canning jar with lid and ring
1. Pour the heavy whipping cream into the jar until it’s about half-full.
2. Let the heavy cream come to room temperature (this helps it turn to butter more quickly.)
3. Screw on the lid.
4. Begin shaking the cream in the jar. (It can get a little tiring, so maybe you can take turns with others.)
5. Keep shaking …
6. And shaking …
7. And shaking … after a few minutes you’ll notice the cream has thickened. It has become whipped cream!
8. Continue shaking. Soon you will hear liquid sloshing inside the jar and something hitting the sides of the jar. That means the cream is separating. After about 15-20 minutes you will have buttermilk and a lump of butter inside your jar.
9. Pour out the buttermilk, leaving the solid butter. You can eat it right now, or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for later. Sprinkle some salt on it before eating if you wish.