If the only squashes you’ve known are Acorn or Butternut, then you will flip your lid when you taste the likes of Buttercup, Delicious, or Sibley. Maximas have a quartet of virtues that other species lack: mild flavor, high solids (starches and sugars), freedom from fibers, and brilliant orange flesh.
Maximas are Amy Goldman’s favorite squashes, and if anyone in the world is worthy of giving advice about squashes, it is Amy! One hundred fifty different specimens–the most extensive collection ever compiled–are captured in “The Compleat Squash”! Here are the maximas she adores, sorted into eight horticultural groups:
The soft-stemmed squash, Cucurbita maxima, arrived from South America after 1492, and although we have yet to fully embrace it–possibly because we’re stuck on our native Cucurbita pepo–the Japanese have not hesitated.
Most members of this species grow on long vines and are consumed mature as winter squashes; shorter-vined forms exist and some fruits are eaten immature as summer squashes, especially in South America.
Australian Blue: blue-rinded squashes with long postharvest life, popular Down Under
Banana: elongated types, in several colors, usually tapered at the stem and blossom ends
Buttercup: small drum-shape pumpkins with an “acorn,” not prominent, at the blossom end
Hubbard: big and bulky bruisers, smooth-rinded or warted, of excellent table quality, in blue, red, or green
Mammoth: exhibition squashes weighting one hundred pounds or more
Turban: not strictly ornamental; similar to Buttercups, but the acorn is more prominent
Zapallito: petite fruits grown on short-running vines or bushy plants