Cushaw! How to clean it and how to use it!

Prep 7 mins
Cook 8 mins
Total 15 mins
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Let’s play a game! What…you don’t want to play? Well too damn bad. :-D

Which of the squashes above is a Cushaw (pronounced Coo-Shaw)?

I will give you a hint…it’s not orange. Oh and it’s not warty looking either.

…You didn’t even try to guess did you? You just scrolled right on down. Well fine, just ruin my fun why don’t ya??

These babies are Cushaws! Aren’t they sexy?? Ok, maybe you don’t think they are sexy, but by the end of this week you will most definitely think they are the cat’s meow. I mean…do I get that excited over just anything? …well ok, maybe a lot of things like wine, cupcakes, and shoes…. But trust me when I say, nothing get’s me more excited then when I spot a cushaw laying among some pumpkins.

I guess you might be wondering what the hell I am blabbering on about. Well, a cushaw is the South’s best kept secret. Sure we share our chicken fried steak recipes and you can find 500 recipes for biscuits and gravy online. But if you google cushaw recipes, you wouldn’t find very much at all…because this is one secret we have kept to ourselves. A cushaw is a member of the crookneck squash family and is technically a winter squash despite being sold in Fall. It is only grown south of the mason dixon line throughout the southern United States and is only available during the Fall months. It has a tender, pale orange/yellow flesh and a very mild flavor that can be overpowered if not careful. 

Until I moved to Florida, I had no idea cushaws were not as available as Pumpkins. Growing up they were a staple and every year I looked forward to picking out a big cushaw to cover in brown sugar and cream. It truly was my favorite part of Fall! At 18, my family moved to Tampa, FL and when October came around that year there were no cushaws to be found. We checked the grocery stores (where they are commonly sold in Texas), the pumpkin patches, and everywhere we could think of. It was like they just didn’t exist anymore. I was heartbroken. Yes, heartbroken over a squash.

A few years after that, we took a family trip to Blue Ridge, GA. While driving around exploring the town, we came across a road side Pumpkin Patch that had 5 cushaws scattered amongst their display. That trip we came home with 5 cushaws — of course I bought all they had. This year Jorge and I moved to Jacksonville, Florida for his job…and I had high hopes that I might find someone selling cushaws since we live so incredibly close to Georgia. As September rolled into October, I lost hope. So while on my trip to Nashville, I bought 3 big cushaws to bring home! They barely fit in our over packed car….but I would have carried them home like babies if I had too!

Then last week, I ran into Walmart to grab some laundry detergent…and you will never guess what I saw?! CUSHAWS! I bought the two best ones in the box and rushed home because I had a plan.

You! You are my plan! For 5 days, today through Friday, I am going to blog about Cushaws! By the end of this week, I know you will be dying to get your hands on one of these babies. You will know what it is, how to clean it/prep it, and have 4 recipes to use it in! It’s all about supply and demand….if the demand goes up, so will the supply…and finding cushaws will be as easy as finding a pumpkin…well at least I hope it will be. ;-)

Ok, so let’s break it down.

You will need a very sharp knife to do this easily. A dull knife will take forever…and can easily slip causing you to cut yourself.

Now, with that super sharp knife I just told you to get, hack off the neck.

Slice the top off the neck and throw it away.

Slice the remaining neck into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces.

The neck tends to be the toughest part of the cushaw. When cooking it, plan on cooking it a little longer than the other parts…or just slice it thinner than the pieces from the bottom half. 

Slice off the outer rind and throw away.

Set aside the pieces from the neck.

Grab the bottom part of the cushaw and slice it vertically, right down the center.

Scoop out all the seeds/guts using a large spoon. I usually run my knife blade around the edges of the guts before using a spoon. It helps to loosen them for easy removal.

If you like roasted pumpkin seeds, cushaw seeds are just as delicious! Toss them in your favorite coatings and roast away!

Working with one half at a time, slice into large slices, about 2 inches in width.

Again, remove all of the rind from the outer edges and throw away.

Now you should have beautiful, clean cushaw flesh. Tomorrow’s recipe will have you baking the cushaw as is, however the remainder of the recipes will be using pureed cushaw. Pureed cushaw is the equivalent of canned pumpkin…but instead you made it yourself. You can store it in ziplock baggies in the freezer for up to 3 months, or if you aren’t terrified you will kill yourself like I am, can it!

Yield: about 8 cups

Cushaw! How to clean it and how to use it!

Girl holding two stripe cushaw squash out side of a grocery store.

Cushaw squash can be used to make so many different recipes and meals! Here's a little tutorial on how to clean and use them:

Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 lb Cushaw, cored, peeled, and diced
  • large glass microwave safe bowl with a lid
  • water

Instructions

  1. In a large microwave safe bowl, place diced cushaw in a single layer. Not all of the cushaw will fit at once; you will have to repeat the steps multiple times.
  2. Add just enough water to start coming up the sides of the cushaw, about 1 inch of water.
  3. Cook on high for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cushaw is easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cushaw to a blender or food processor. Puree until completely smooth, no lumps.
  5. Cool and use in a recipe or freeze for up to 3 months!

Notes

Pureed Cushaw can be used in just about any recipe that normally uses Pumpkin. However, cushaw puree has more liquid than pureed/canned pumpkin. So when using cushaw in place of pumpkin, use less liquid than the recipe originally calls for.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

Categories

Here are a couple of delicious recipes featuring Cushaw!

Cinnamon Baked Cushaw

Cranberry Cushaw Bread

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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Comments

152 Responses
  1. Linda starkey

    my 87 yr Daddy plant these an sells them to restaurants they are so good they are really an Ancient fruit. my momma can make the Best cashew pie an a yellow squash pie that is so unbelievably sweet an no top just pie shell bottom.

  2. NA

    I would love to hear more about your crock pot recipe. This isn’t first go around with them. They are doing great in my spring time garden.
    Thanks

    1. Linda starkey

      an candide cushaw slice butter sheet pan spread 1/2 in thick slices put brown sugar on top nutmeg cinnamon any flavors I like apple pie spice also along with the other spices. you can even spice with some hot flavors bake slow til they kind of get I say stick an dryer some hot out of the oven a scoop of ice cream or plain my favorites.

  3. Jennifer

    I’m from TN and this has always been my all time favorite food. Growing up my Mom cooked it in a skillet with butter and sugar. She’d crank it up at the end so it would be a caramelized slice of heaven. I moved to the Pacific Northwest 21 years ago and decided this year to try and grow some from seeds. What fun!! They definitely need real estate to spread but oh my goodness. I just harvested 11 more of them today!! I canned some and I’m going to freeze the rest. I also used some in a sweet potato pie recipe which was pretty darn good too. I’ll be planting these and the Delicata squash again next year, for sure!

    1. Jodi

      I love it. I live in Northern California, never knew this squash existed and I’m a gardener. But I went to pick up manure for my garden and that’s where these beauties introduced themselves to me. I’m done with zucchinis . This is my go to squash. Yum crock potting soup right now.

  4. Debra Hamm

    I was wondering if the white longneck pumpkins I grew this summer in upstate NY are the same as cushaws?

    1. Linda starkey

      they grow now my daddy just picked over 200 he is a farmer 87 years old. not sure ask the produce manager at your store I would have to see one

  5. Carmelita

    I am from south Louisiana bayou country and have been cooking cushaw for many years. Glad to see someone else shares mu passion. I love all your recipes

    1. Shelia Reedom

      I have been looking for custard to buy but can’t find any. I am in the Lafayette area. Any ideas on where I can purchase?
      Thank you

      1. A woman holding a camera standing in front of some shelves.
        Jessica

        Hi! Cushaw is usually a fall squash found in the Southern US. I have never seen it this time of year, it doesn’t start appearing until pumpkins show up!

        1. Deborah

          I just finished harvesting my early cushaws. I still have time for a second crop. They are traditionally started in June or July for fall harvest.

          1. Linda starkey

            I hear ya we’re from Tx an have always loved them people now most dont know what they are or what to do with them. sadly

    2. Deborah Midkiff

      I just found some at a produce stand in East Texas. I never saw them before, but I am excited to try it.

  6. Patricia Wiskur

    I planted my first cushaw pumpkins this year. My pumpkin-farm friends gave me 36 seeds.
    He handed them to me in a plastic zip-lock as if he was putting pure gold in my hands.
    Glad to see your Blog because I had never heard of cushaws before, and have only grown decorative pumpkins.
    Now I am totally zapped, and will try your recipes!

  7. Felicia

    I grew up in southern Indiana. My mom made the best “pumpkin” pie with this squash. I found an orange colored one in Walmart this fall. Did not know they came in orange. Bought it and used it as decoration, now in February I’m going to give my own, from scratch, pumpkin pie a try. Thank you!

    1. Jay Bruins

      I have been making Cushaw for 40 years. My problem is the type of Cushaw. There is a non pumpkin Cushaw I like. I usually get them from super one in Alexandria, La. Since a year from late June to July. Wish I could find them in Houston. Found the pumpkin variety in Houston. They taste like pumkin, not like the ones grown in La. Or Miss. Wish I could find the plain Cushaw farms of the South. Know of any? Thank you.

      1. Jeanette weedon

        Hi! My husband grew some for the first time this spring and they are now ready. We don’t have a lot of them. My husband grows celebrity tomatoes and we sell them at our tomato stand. We are selling some of the Cushaws that we have. We live in Bryan, Texas.

      2. Patty Cason

        Hi Jay. We found some today in Rosenberg, Fort Bend County, at Pavlock Farms. I was so excited ad I had been looking for them everywhere. HEB…no luck.

    2. Linda starkey

      as they age in the sun it burns them that’s why they get gold stripe their still good just should of been picked alittle sooner one my daddy just picked from his field weighed 15 pounds a big momma gonnamakesoonpie candy. cake an cushaw an yellow squash pie no top crust only bottom pie crust top keeps to must moisture in it will be very soupy when you start an it thick er nd up follow recipes

  8. Norma

    I live in Tampa & looking for cushaw, know where I might find one or more? I am from Kentucky & always do Cushaw pie at Thanksgiving! Need to find or find the pureed cushaw if is available somewhere!
    Mom

  9. Betty Locklear

    I grew up on a farm in North Carolina. Still here. My mom always did Cushaw and pumpkin in the oven. she would cut them in half and get the string part and seeds out. Put them in a baking pan and with the cut side up and cover with a lid or tin foil. Bake until tender. Scope out the pulp and put in a sieve or colander to drain all water. Then put in an iron skillet with butter and sugar, to your taste, until it is a deep brown and serve with hot homemade biscuits.Cook slowly so as not to burn or scorch.

    1. Kate

      I’m peeling Cushaw today thank you for great recipes. I live in Tennessee. The Cherokee Indians introduced Cushaw to the scotch Irish immigrants to sustain them through the winters. My children eat Cushaw for thanksgiving. 

  10. Trudy Calvert

    Cushaw is my absolute favorite for squash pie, which is also my absolute favorite ❣️my grandma made the best. I used to grow it in Indiana but I have been transplanted to Northeast Alabama and haven’t seen it here yet I will have to grow my own next year. 

  11. Judi

    Thank you for the cushaw recipes! My Dad grew cushaw in southeast Texas. I grew up with large piles of them stacked under the mulberry trees. Roasted, in pies, baked with cinnamon and brown sugar and my favorite, thinly sliced and fried cushaw neck! Yum!

  12. Helen

    Hi. I was just given my first cushaw…can it be baked like a butternut or acorn? We just like to add true maple syrup over top.
    Great info. Thank you.

  13. Terry P.

    You will no doubt be mad at me but I just came from a poultry auction in Maryland. We are approaching mid July here and it’s very hot. The local farmers bring in their surplus veggies to sell at the beginning of the auction. Well, as I am walking in, I spotted a lovely Amish family pull up and start unloading their chickens for the sale. I saw one of the young girls hefting a large green and white squash. I was intrigued.

    When it came towards the end of the produce sales, I was stunned to learn that there were 7 of these unusual squashes. The auctioneer referred to them as “pumpkins” but no one seemed interested. I sure was! I bought all 7 of those giants for $0.70 each!!! Yes, $4.90 for about 100 pounds of the most intriguing “pumpkin” I had ever seen!  Do you hate me yet?

    So, when I got home, I cleaned each one and decorated my front steps with these beauties. I can only imagine what my neighbors must think about my house being adorned on July 10 with gigantic “pumpkins”!

    Next, I needed more information so I hit Google. I found your blog. (BTW – you are awesome!). Now, I have a new found appreciation for my beauties with plans for the next week!  Thank you!  Thank you!!!

    Please don’t hate me!

    1. Linda starkey

      LOL hey as lo g as another person learns about them they will make a come back. they are a fruit Ancient most people think the are squash u will love them

  14. Linda Newman

    Or you can just cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds, place it face down in a pan of water and cook in the oven on 350 for about an hour or until it is soft. Then it easily scoops out without having to peel it. Then I puree it.

  15. Terry

    Wonder if you have ever heard of “calabaza con pollo”. It means squash with chicken. It is a traditional Mexican dish that includes onions, bell peppers, diced canned tomatoes and canned corn. Of course, Mexican spices. Goes perfectly with corn tortillas. It was my dad’s favorite dish.  

     Like you, I get extremely excited when I find one in the local grocery store. After several years of keeping my eyes open, I finally located some app the local H-E-B food store. I am making the dish for the day after Thanksgiving to share with family in my dad’s memory. 

    1. Jim

      Finally somebody That knows what Calabasa con Pollo is I grew up in South Texas and I had it as a child and now I’m growing some in my garden soon I will be having it again I dream of these days and I’m glad to see somebody else knows what I’m talking about

  16. Patty Koopmans

    thank you for the information on this squash. never saw it before & never tasted it before. Got it from a food bank. didn’t quite know what it was until i searched – which i should have done first before cutting & freezing. I treated it like a zucchini..lol but when i get it out to use it, i will cut off the rind.

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Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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