SQUASHES

Squash and pumpkins grown and consumed in Mexico belong to the genus Cucurbita, are of American origin and were present in Mesoamerican cultures starting 10,000 years ago.
All squash plants climb or creep, and feature tendrils, lobed leaves, two types of flowers (male and female) plus fruits.
The nutrient content of squash seeds and fruits is similar—or in some cases even greater—than that of milk and eggs.

Castilian Squash
These squash are large, pear-shaped, elliptical or nearly round, and feature smooth or rounded ribs, thick shells, and abundant yellow or orange pulp containing numerous seeds also known as pips.
Castilian squash is grown mainly in Mexico’s Northern and Central Highlands, North and Central Pacific, as well as North and Central Gulf, and receives various names according to its zone of cultivation: cuaresmeña squash, sweet potato squash, Tamala, calabaza de casco, etc.
In some places different varieties, their shells hollowed out and dried, become jícara vessels for storing water, serving pozole or chocolate, keeping tortillas warm or can even be made into musical instruments.
In parts of the rural north of Mexico, where their growing season is prolonged, the fruits are half-cooked and flesh is cut into rounds called bichicoris that are dried and eaten with soups in times of food scarcity.
The most widely eaten Castilian squash dish is a sweetened recipe known as calabaza en tacha or calabaza de Todos Santos, available in October and November (when the finest fruits are harvested), placed as offerings during Day of the Dead celebrations and also eaten as a dessert. The squash is cut into pieces, simmered in water with brown sugar and spices and sometimes accompanied by other fruits (hawthorn, guava) or sugarcane. Pith is used as a base for soups, purées, stuffing, a soup ingredient, is used a garnish or can be candied. Traditional medicine uses juice extracted from leaves; stems and resins harvested from shells are a remedy for healing wounds and burns.

Round squash, long squash or zucchini
Unripe fruits that can be round or nearly oval. Consumers prefer the former for their flavor; their soft, nearly smooth shells; their yellow flesh and small, soft seeds. The latter are similar to round varieties in all but physical form, and are more widely cultivated and consumed throughout the world. Prime season extends from February to April and August to October; the highest-volume production is situated in the North Pacific region (Sonora). Mexicans use round zucchini as an ingredient in broths and stews; the squash are cooked and hollowed out, then stuffed. Long squash or zucchini are eaten raw in salads, cooked into soups, stews or casseroles with sauces; they are an ingredient in rice dishes; stuffing for tamales; and they can be cooked and hollowed out, then stuffed. Finally, they can be a garnish or base for soups.

Squash Blossoms
Squash plants bear two types of flowers (male and female). If properly harvested, only male flowers are picked and female flowers are left on plants to produce fruit (squashes or pumpkins). Squash blossoms are also eaten in broths, are a base for soups, are stuffing for antojitos and tamales, stews and atoles, and can themselves be stuffed.

Pumpkin seeds
All pumpkins and squashes contain seeds—also known as pips—but in this case we are referring to Castilian or pipiana squashes. Depending on the squash, seeds vary in size, shape and color, as well as with regard to the hardness of their shells.


In Mexico, they are roasted (with or without shells) and eaten as snacks. The packaged food industry offers them shelled and even enchiladas (i.e., covered in chile powder). They are essential to the Mexican kitchen for sauces called pipianes, and are an ingredient in regional moles; they are also combined with honey or piloncillo brown sugar syrup to make palanquetas; and are a garnish on pepitoria wafers. In traditional medicine, pumpkinseed oil is used to cure hemorrhoids.

Recipes

CASTILIAN SQUASH
Wakabakki

ROUND SQUASH, LONG SQUASH OR ZUCCHINI
Mole de olla
Red rice
Milpa tlatonile

SQUASH BLOSSOMS
Joroch' with squash blossom
Milpa tlatonile

PUMPKIN SEEDS
Scallops with pico de gallo
Green pozole
Pazkal
Mole de chiapas with turkey
Papadzules
Milpa tlatonile