A Calabacitas Summer


The last several summers, I have grown Gadzukes in my garden. Gadzukes is a hybrid zucchini squash sold by Burpee. It looks like and tastes like zucchini except that it grows fast. Within a week a blossom grows into a squash 3 inches in diameter and 18 to 24 inches long.

Traditionally, people pick zucchini at 5 to 8 inches in length because the slow-growing squash gets tough and grows large seeds. We prefer our zucchini a bit larger. With the usual varieties of zucchini, we generally grow harvest at 12 to 14 length. Because Gadzukes grow so fast, the 18 to 24 inch fruit is still sweet and tender. The seeds are still very small and immature. The 18 to 24 inch fruits are excellent for eating raw, frying, boiling, stuffing with a mixture of meat, onions, chili and tomatoes, as zucchini bread or making into calabacitas.

Calabacitas literally means small squash. It is the name given to a dish very popular in New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest. It is chunks of zucchini squash cooked with onions, corn and green chili. Some cooks add other vegetables.

Calabacitas is very popular among our neighbors. Even the restaurants offer it in season. Now most of you are asking, “What kind of a restaurant offers squash on their menu?” Here in New Mexico, I have been served calabacitas as a side in some very high-class restaurants

The disadvantage of a fast growing squash, is that it can get away from the grower. I try to pick the squash at the 18 to 24 inch size, but often they hide. If I do not pick them at the desirable size, they grow to a diameter of 4 inches and length of 30 inches within the next day or two. The seeds also start to mature.

Because squash bugs usually decimate our squash vines, I planted the entire package of seeds this summer. Because we are in a drought, we had no squash bugs until the late summer rains hatched a few out. As a result all the seeds grew and none were taken out by the bugs.

As you can guess, we have a bumper crop of zucchini squash and the vines are still producing. All summer our kitchen has had 2 to 4 baskets of squash, some 30 inches long. We have been enjoying the squash and giving it away as fast as we can. We take a basket to church and all the squash disappear quickly at our small church.

Most of our friends make the squash into calabacitas, but I am sure there are other uses. One friend told me she made 5 loves of zucchini bread from a 30 inch squash. Another woman ground a squash up and froze it in anticipation of baking zucchini bread next winter.

My wife has begun slicing the large squash into thin slices and drying them in the dehydrator to make zucchini chips. We find them an interesting snack.

2018 will be known as the calabacitas summer.

This blog post was not sponsored by Burpee, nor was it intended to endorse Gadzukes. The description of the squashes grown this summer is factual. The author does identify the source of these hybrid seeds as a service to those who may wish to try growing such fast growing zucchini.

Reynold Conger is an author of fiction. Visit his web site at http://ReynoldConger.com/ to learn about the books he has written. The website also contains a bee page with news about the bees that pollinate Reyold’s vegetables and produce honey.

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About Reynold Conger

Reynold Conger is a retired scientist, engineer and teacher. Now writing fiction. His books are CHASED ACROSS AUSTRALIA, MY KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR and REDUCING MEDICAL COSTS (AT THE COST OF HEALTH). He has also started a series of novelas called THE RICHARD TRACY SERIES. Residence: New Mexico, USA Hobbies: gardening, animals and running. website www.ReynoldConger.com
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