Gem Squash

Gem Squash

 

(Also known as Little Gem Squash, Rolet Squash, 8-ball Squash)

Gem squash seems to be a unique favourite in South Africa (much like biltong) although it originated in Central America. It is a round vegetable, the size of a large apple, with a dark green thick shell of a skin and sweet, firm, dense, yellowy-orange flesh filled with immature seeds.

 

It falls into the summer squash category, although unlike other summer squashes it has a tough, inedible skin.

Allergen: no

Introduction: 6 months

Gem squash is a perfect first food for your little one. It is not allergenic, easy to prepare, has a soft texture and mild flavour – and it comes in its own biodegradable serving bowl!

Selection:

Choose gem squash that is heavy for its size and has a dark green colour with no bruises or marks on the skin.

Storage:

Store whole, raw gem squash in a cool dark place for up to 2 weeks (although they can be stored for a months after they are first harvested).

Store cooked gem squash in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Store cooked gem squash in a sealed container in the freezer for 2 months.

Preparation/Use:

Soak the gem squash in a salt-, vinegar-, or hydrogen peroxide water solution for 20 minutes then rinse under running water.

 

Cut the squash in half and steam for 10 minutes, or until the flesh is soft.

 

Scoop out the seeds; add a teaspoon of coconut oil or ghee and a sprinkle of sea salt and serve.

 

Alternatively, you can scoop out the flesh and mash or purée.

 

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Nutritional Value:

Gem Squash is a GOOD source of: vitamin A (in the form of carotenes), vitamin C, vitamin B, potassium and fibre.

Grow Your Own!

 

Gem squash are easy to grow, but do require some patience as the growing season lasts 70-90 days. But once they are ready, they will keep for months if stored in a cool, dark place. A reliable and heavy cropper, each plant can produce fifteen or more fruits.

 

 

Planting tips :

  • Gem squash need a lot of space to grow – they send out long vines so along a fence would be ideal.
  • They are sensitive to frost
  • Sow gem squash in a sunny spot in rich, well-drained soil.
  • Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.
  • Mulching is not necessary as the large leaves of the squash plant provide similar protection from moisture loss.

 

 

Companion Planting:

Plant with garlic chives, basil or nasturtium to deter pests. You can also plant them with onions, sweetcorn and beans.

Do not plant the squashes with potatoes.

 

 

When to plant:

Early spring

 

 

When to harvest:

  • Squash should be harvested in early autumn.
  • The fruit is ripe and ready to be picked when the skin is too hard to pierce with your fingernails.
  • Wipe them clean and store them in a cool, dark place for up to three months.

 

 

Saving Seed:

Chop open the matured squash and scoop out the seeds. Wash them with warm water and then spread them out on a surface to dry.

Store the seeds in a cool dry place. If you do so, the seed will last for up to 4 years.

 

Gem Squash is in season in early Autumn.

WHY NOT GROW YOUR OWN?

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FIND MORE DELICIOUS AND NUTRITIOUS ORGANIC FOODS HERE:

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BUY THE BOOK:

Mila’s Meals: The Beginning & The Basics has a comprehensive ingredient glossary for all 156 ingredients used in the recipes. Including info on selection, storage, preparation, nutrient content, health benefits, introduction age and allergen status.
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