Back in late July I told you about a two-for-one squash from Argentina called ‘Pilar’ aka ‘Zapallito Redondo de Tronco’ that can be harvested young as a zucchini, or left to ripen and enjoyed later in the year as a winter squash. Well, three months have passed and I have begun harvesting and eating the fruit that were left to ripen into much larger winter squashes.
On first impression they are big — much larger than I anticipated. The plant was very prolific, again exceeding my expectations. It just grew and grew… and grew. For that reason I would not classify this as a particularly compact plant, although I suppose that you could see it that when when compared with the free roaming habit of most winter squash varieties. The plant started out compact, but by fall its arms had taken over the raised bed it was meant to share with another bushing squash and had made its way underneath a few tomatoes and out onto the main pathway. I tried to reign it in as much as possible as I was worried about powdery mildew. Still, it did well and outlasted many of the other squashes I grew this year. In fact, as I write this in late October most of the plant is still in the soil! It has continued to put out a few flowers here and there that we are savouring very late into the season. A hard frost is coming soon, so I suspect this week will be its last.
As you can see the fruit is dark green on the outside with hints of orange and a very bright orange interior flesh. The shell is hard and inedible, with an inside that is soft and wet. I have baked a few in the oven and made the mistake of adding water to the pan, which is what I often do to keep hard squashes from drying out. Next time I will not add any water to the pan and will instead allow it to steam in its own liquid. This treatment may also help improve the taste, which I am sorry to report is on the bland side. The batches I have made so far have relied on a liberal addition of sage and thyme to give it some zing.
Despite its shortcoming this is still hands-down my favourite new squash and one that I will be growing again and again. It was bountiful to say the least, offering up possibly hundreds of edible flowers through summer and well into fall, as well as several tender zucchinis and approximately eight mature fruits. And to be fair, we’ve had an exceptionally wet and cool growing season from start to finish this year. For that reason I will be curious to see if this variety ripens with more flavour and less wetness in drier, hotter years.