One of my current passions (and personal research projects at Sophie’s Patch) is for vegies which are good keepers. In the old days we grew some vegie varieties for using fresh and others which could be stored in a cellar or similar cool place.
I still have pumpkins in our cellar from a year ago and I am fascinated by the varieties of pumpkins that store the longest. Basically the harder the skin, the better they keep. So this year I am again trialing what I can grow and store for months. Onions are an obvious crop, as is garlic and golden shallots, however here are a few of my other favourites.
Tromboncino is a fascinating type of zucchini with dense flesh and an interesting shape. While a zucchini like black jack will go from 15cm to oversized at 60cm in a week, this zucchini takes several weeks to grow the same distance. As a result its flesh is denser and less watery, more like that of a butternut pumpkin. It is a long slender neck with a bulbous base, and just to make it more interesting, it curls if it touches anything so you can actually get some crazy shapes where it gets caught up in its own vine. While you can eat them fresh at any stage, if you leave them on the vine will they go from green to a pale tan colour they will stores for many months, allowing you to enjoy a summer vegie in the middle of winter. Last year I stored some for six months until I could bear it no longer and cooked them up to make one of my favourite cakes – white chocolate tromboncino. Yummo!
Gem Squash are a fascinating round squash which is a favourite amongst people who come from South Africa. These taste delicious when steamed and served with butter, salt and pepper. They will eventually get to grapefruit size and while again you can harvest them and eat them fresh at any stage, if you wait till their skins are hard and can’t be pierced with your finger nail they will store.
Pimply Squash is a new one to me this year. It is rather an ugly looking vegie and has incredibly hard skin. It is probably what I would describe as an axe job – best hit with an axe to cut it in half. Again it is delicious when steamed but don’t expect to be able to peel it. Simply cut in half or quarters, scoop out the seeds and steam.