Gem squash (Cucurbita pepo var. pepo) is a variety of summer squash that was domesticated from two wild varieties; Cucurbita texana found in the southern and central United States and Cucurbita fraterna found in Mexico. The dark green spherical fruit, when fully ripe, is about the size of a softball (slightly larger than a tennis ball). The fruit needs to be boiled or baked in order to render it palatable. It is cut in half and if the pips are tough, they are scooped out before or after steaming for 25 minutes. The pips are edible and nutritious so if soft, eat them. If the fruit is older the skin can be hard to cut in half until cooked. Spike to avoid them cracking during cooking if not cut in half. Unlike Zuchinni, it is not palatable half cooked, al-dente and must be cooked until it is soft. The fruit can be harvested at any stage. The young fruit is often harvested before it is ripe (about golf ball size or tennis ball size) due to its having a more delicate flavour and texture.
It is commonly served as a vegetable in South Africa, often boiled or baked. The cooked gem squash is then generally cut in half, and the inside may be covered in butter and seasoned with salt ( English-speaking culinary tradition) or brown sugar and even cinnamon( Afrikaans-speaking culinary tradition) to enhance the nutty flavour.
- Paris, H. S. "Characterization of the Cucurbita pepo collection at the Newe Ya'ar Research Center, Israel". Plant Genetics Resources Newsletter. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
- Sauer, Jonathan D. (1993). Historical geography of crop plants - a select roster. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. ISBN 0849389011.
- "Table 7-126". Biodiversity International. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
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