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home kitchen garden winter squash

I photographed my neck pumpkin next to 2/3 of the butternut squash that grew this year in my home kitchen garden (we’ve consumed a third of the butternut squash). The neck pumpkin in this photo weighs 20 pounds. The combined weight of the butternut squash in the photo is 22 pounds.

I love to grow butternut squash in my home kitchen garden. Winter squash has a rich, sweet flavor, and it’s filling. What’s more, a typical single fruit can easily feed a family of four… maybe even for two meals.

Since moving to rural Pennsylvania 14 years ago, I’ve eyed these butternut squash-like fruits that are omnipresent at farmers’ markets, farm stands, and road-side kiosks. These fruits look like butternut squash that took steroids that had taken steroids. While the fruits have fascinated me, I’ve dismissed them as impractical because of their sizes. How could I possibly use a squash of that size before it started to rot?

Neck Pumpkin Fascination

During a Twitter exchange the other night, I shared that I’d heard neck pumpkins are great for pumpkin pie. My Twitter friends weren’t familiar with neck pumpkins, and I realized that I had little to offer… so I did some research.

Neck pumpkins, it seems, are kind of a central Pennsylvania phenomenon. In fact, Cornell University’s web site acknowledges that some people call neck pumpkins Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash. I’ve photographed neck pumpkins in local gardens, and there’s clearly no trick to growing these squash goliaths: they grow as readily as butternut squash. I imagine they haven’t taken the world by storm mostly because of the crazy size of their fruits.

In any case, after researching neck pumpkins, I decided it’s time I get some first-hand experience with one of these bad boys.

The Neck Pumpkin Wow-Factor

At the farmers’ market, there were many piles of neck pumpkins from which to choose. Vendors were asking about $2.25 for the small ones, and up to $3.75 for the large ones. Actually, one vendor had neck pumpkins marked at 79 cents a pound which is a crazy price to ask when shoppers can get a 15 pound pumpkin for $2.25 from the vendor directly across the walkway.

To help put the neck pumpkin’s size in perspective: that’s me holding the pumpkin. I’m 6’1” tall. Another point of comparison: our local grocery store is advertising a sale price for winter squash of 79 cents per pound. I’d have paid $15.80 at the grocery store sale price. Their normal price is $1.49 per pound, making this $29 worth of winter squash. I paid $3.50 at the farmers’ market.

I chose a large neck pumpkin, but not an extraordinary one. On my way to the car, I stopped to buy apples and pears from a different vendor. The man who served me commented, “Making pie?” That seems to be the main purpose of neck pumpkins: to become pumpkin pie. Many times in the past month I’ve heard people comment about what great pies you can make using neck pumpkins.

So, I’m going to make pies. I estimate that I can make 12 to 16 pies from my neck pumpkin. No, I won’t make them all at once. Rather, I’ll make a few pies… and a pumpkin cheese cake. I might even serve neck pumpkin as a side dish for dinner once or twice. Maybe I’ll make a pot of pumpkin soup. Oh, and I’ve been hankering to make pumpkin ravioli.

With the ten pounds of neck pumpkin meat that remains after all that cooking, I’ll finally try out my pressure canner. It’ll be nice to have a few dozen jars of canned pumpkin so I’ll be able to make more pumpkin pies, pumpkin cake, pumpkin fritters, and a dozen loaves of pumpkin bread.

Oh, and I’m saving the seeds. Next year I’m growing neck pumpkins in my home kitchen garden.

I found a few other posts about neck pumpkins that you might find interesting. Please enjoy them:

  • Cooking Soup in a Pumpkin – Buy a neck pumpkin or two. My initial mistake was trying to use a jack-o-lantern type pumpkin (so much wasted effort!). I think we get about 4 c. of puree from one neck pumpkin. 2. Peel the neck pumpkins. Cut them into thick 1-2″ slices …

  • “Mistaken Identity” « Daily Encouragement – I prefer neck pumpkin because it is less watery than other more common types, has fewer seeds and very little stringy pulp. It is solid pumpkin until the very bottom (see photo below) so you really get your money’s worth. …

  • Brown Long Neck – Another heirloom: the Brown Long Neck pumpkin. This crook-neck pumpkin makes an excellent pumpkin bread or pie. The Brown Long Neck is the pumpkin used by our regional Amish for their markets’ baked goods. …

 

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28 Responses to Neck Pumpkin: A Home Kitchen Garden Marvel

  • Gayla says:

    These look amazing. Are you going to freeze or can it for later pies?

  • gardenbre says:

    love how the mama neck pumpk is nuzzling the little guys … I’m sorely tempted now to go get some and to pressure can a batch along with some of my pumpkins instead of freezing them … hmm

  • Wow! Those are super huge and leave me so intrigued! I cant wait to read all you future posts on these bad boys! Curious as to how they may grow in California weather!
    Thanks for the great read!
    Jennifer (4bratz2luv)

  • Lori Heim says:

    I moved from Central Pa to Indiana 13 1/2 years ago and really miss being able to get neck pumpkins. They make the best pumpkin pies, cookies, etc. When I do get a chance to get one, I cut it into pieces, put it in a 250 degree oven for 2 or 3 hours and scoop out the soft pulp. I freeze it in 1 cup servings. Some people peel the pumpkin and cut it in pieces and cook it down like you would apples for applesauce and then freeze it.

  • Pingback: Blue Hubbard Squash for a Small Kitchen Garden | Your Small Kitchen Garden

  • bill bush says:

    My Grandma Lucy grew an equivalent plant called “cushaw” in western NC. The squash is striped in two-tone green, light and dark, like a watermelon, but is shaped more like a large straight-neck squash. A typical one is two feet long and ten inches in diameter, quite large. These will keep for some time into the winter. The pale green flesh is the sweetest of any squash I have ever tasted. Another old-time plant she grew was the “banana squash”, a reddish long vegetable similar to the cushaw, but I if I remember correctly it was a better winter keeper. It had yellow flesh and was also sweeter than butternut. I have seen seeds in catalogs, so they are evidently still available. Grandma kept the squash in a cave dug into the side of a hill in the pasture. The opening was kept covered with straw, and on the occasional warmer days of winter, she would pull back the straw and bring out what she planned to use during the next couple of weeks. The old house had a dug-out cold cellar underneath it, but that was full of her home-canned goods, so the squash and pumpkins went in the cave. No canning/freezing needed. I think I remember the onions being in the cold cellar.

  • Cindy says:

    Wow! I didn’t realize I was so lucky to live in PA! I assumed everybody knew about these pumpkins! The trick to buying these – look for one with a substantial neck and small bulbous end. All of the flesh is located in the neck, while the round end contains the seeds.

  • admin says:

    Cindy: Thanks for visiting! Amazingly, when I gave a neck pumpkin to my neighbor yesterday, she told me she’d never seen one! My neighbor grew up in central Pennsylvania and told me she loves squash. My guess: she never shops at farmers’ markets and farm stands. I’ve never seen a neck pumpkin in a grocery store.

  • Katerina says:

    Thanks for the info! I justy picked up this neck pumpkin at Trader Joes in Bergen County, NJ for $3.99. I guessed that it was like butternut squash. They must have gotten it from PA…

  • Tonia says:

    I live in Lancaster, Pa and I bought one of these a week ago. Mine weighs about 32 lbs! The Amish woman told me that I could use it to make pies and that they are good to eat. However, when I got home and did some seaching on the internet, I couldn’t find any information about them. Now, I know why! lol…Thank you for sharing the information.
    Ps, I paid $3.00 for mine. I also bout a Hubbard squash for $3.00 and a cinderella pumpkin for $2.00. I love this time of year!

  • admin says:

    Tonia: Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. Isn’t it amazing? Some of the neck pumpkins and blue hubbard squashes I’ve seen this year are almost scary for how huge they are. With a 32 pound neck pumpkin, you’ll need approximately 25 tons of people to eat all the pie… assuming each person eats only one slice. I also love this time of year!

  • Pingback: Lancaster News #27 « Harlem Community Farm Share

  • Pingback: Lancaster News #27 « Harlem Community Farm Share

  • Steve Keip says:

    I would love to try growing some. Any ideas where I can get seeds? Or might you be willing to share a few?

    Steve

  • admin says:

    Thanks for visiting! If you’re not in a hurry for those neck pumpkin seeds, please watch this site. To promote Your Home Kitchen Garden, I plan to give away seeds in late January or early February. Last year I was able to send out more than 60 packs of seeds; I hope to mail more this year.

    If you want seeds sooner than that, you can find them on several web sites that sell heirloom seeds.

  • TZ says:

    I want to try growing these especially because they are resistant to squash vine borrers, which tend to kill off other types here.

    You could try cutting 1/2″ thick slices and panfrying/steaming with a little salt and butter. I have been doing that with butternuts for a quick-fix vegetable. A little plastic wrap over the cut end and they keep in the refrigerator for a long time.

  • sandy says:

    Being from Lancaster , PA and now living in Indiana ,Pa I do miss my Neck Pumpkin , but I do my best to get back home in the fall. You said that you can your pumkin , do you use a pressure canner or water bath , I’ve not found a good recipe. Can you help?
    Thanks

  • admin says:

    Sandy: I wrote about canning winter squash here: http://www.homekitchengarden.com/home-kitchen-garden/can-squash-or-pumpkin-from-your-home-kitchen-garden. You need a pressure canner to can squash. A boiling water bath canner can leave bacteria alive that could kill you if you eat them later. I find that I tend to use canned squash in baked goods and rarely serve it as a vegetable with dinner.

  • sandy says:

    Thanks for the information on canning neck pumpkin . You can bet there will many jars in my pantry come fall.

  • Andrea says:

    I finally re-located to the East Coast after 30+ years, and had Mom send me the seeds of a neck pumpkin from an Amish Veggie stand. If you are tempted to try it, dedicate a huge area in your garden! A few plants easily covered 20 sq/ft. They took over the peanut plants and crossed the fence into the yard.

  • admin says:

    Andrea: Thanks for visiting and for providing the heads-up. My set 2 hills of neck pumpkins this year and have two volunteer plants near the compost heap. I’m training the ones in my garden onto a trellis, but it’s clear they’ll still overwhelm the space I reserved for them.

  • Barry Spangler says:

    My sister-in-law form York, Pa. shipped a neck pumpkin to us last fall. We kept the seeds and put them in the freezer and I planted them this past spring. Tthey are growing very well in Prescott Valley, Az. They need some space. They have intertwined my tomato plants and challenging my grape vine for use of the chain link fence. Soon will be pumpkin pie for the whole neighborhood.

  • TZ says:

    I grew these over the summer from the seed giveaway. Large healthy disease and pest resistant plants. Early on we found out how wonderful these are green as a summer squash. We are still harvesting green squash even though frost is right around the corner and the patch is full of big buff colored ripe squash. The freezer is also full of blanched green squash (1/2″ disks boiled for 3 min).
    The flavor and texture is similar to chayote squash, and we don’t see much difference even when the squash starts to turn from green to orange other than the seed chamber can’t be eaten any longer.

    I prefer butternut for ripe flavor but will keep growing the longnecks for summer squash.

  • jpatti says:

    I poke a few holes in them, put them on a cookie sheet, and bake them whole. Then I scoop the flesh into 2-cup containers and freeze.

    2-cups is just enough to make a pumpkin pie and a pumpkin custard.

  • admin says:

    jpatti – I cook them differently from how you do it, but I do like to put up cooked squash in the freezer. I posted about how to do that (using Blue Hubbard squash, but it works with all winter squashes) here: Freeze Winter Squash.

  • Tom says:

    I have these growing in my veggie garden but had no idea what they were until I found your website. They were included in some trays of mixed pumpkin/squash seedlings I purchased but I lost the details of what the different seedlings were.
    Do they have any other names though? I am in Australia and have never heard of neck pumpkin before and it isn’t what was on the seedlings I bought as I would remember that. Some of mine are over 3 foot long.

  • admin says:

    Tom: Thank you for visiting. I’m impressed that neck pumpkin has found its way to Australia! The squash’s more proper name is Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash, but that’s a mouthful. I guess the Pennsylvania Dutch would feel awkward referring to a squash as “Pennsylvania Dutch” anything, and “Crookneck Squash” is a variety of summer squash. Around here, everyone calls them Neck Pumpkins.

  • Steve says:

    I grew these here in New Mexico this year. Prolific is an understatement. They grew all over the yard and I have several that I will be harvesting soon. Very informative article and comments but I’m no cook. Can anyone point me in the right direction for recipes and how to bake them etc.

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