Patty Pan Squash

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What’s that? On the market table? A UFO? A pumpkin? What???

It’s a Patty Pan squash! Scallop squash or Patty Pans are a summer squash variety with a mild taste and a delightfully smooth texture. They were developed by Native Americans and have been grown since before Columbus. The squash is described in European literature as far back as 1591 and accounts of it can be found in American texts throughout the 1700s!

We are growing a white heirloom variety and have been so excited to meet people who have fond memories of this squash from childhood. About half the folks who see our Patty Pans have no idea what they are and ask us about them (never be afraid to ask a farmer “what is that? How do you cook it? How does it grow?” We love to answer those questions!). However, everyone who recognizes the squash smiles immediately.

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Experienced Patty Pan lovers seem to all agree that sautéing the squash in butter is the best way to enjoy it. We’ve roasted some in the oven, and I know folks grill them as well. The shape is also perfect for stuffing! The skin is thin and edible.

This is my first year growing these little UFOs and I am totally smitten with them. They are so fun to pick and even more fun to display at the market. I hope you enjoy them too!

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Radishes, Three ways

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Above (From left to right): French D’Avignon, White Icicle, and Belle radishes.

Radishes were developed in Asia, perhaps 2,000 years ago and are now found all over the world. There are so many interesting, and very different varieties for many different tastes. French D’Avignon radishes were developed in…any guesses… France! They are the most mild radish we grow and are perfect sliced thin and layered on a slice of buttered toast (perhaps a baguette?) with a little bit of salt.

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Our belle radishes are the standby, round radish with pink (and sometimes white or purple) skin. A bit spicy! Round-type radishes have only been popular since the 1930s and 40s.

…which brings us to the White Icicle radishes (also called Lady Fingers, which is totally creepy)! This is my first year growing these heirlooms from the 1600s, and I love them! Many of our Farmers’ Market customers remember their moms growing this sort of radish when they were kids. Because of the warm weather, these Icicle radishes are a bit spicy – about on par with the belles. In our house, radishes are usually eaten in the garden and don’t often make it to the kitchen, but you can roast the Icicle radishes to bring out a little bit of sweetness.

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If you are less ravenous with radishes than we are here and want to keep them for a few days, simply remove their tops and store them in the fridge for up to a week. I submerge mine in a bowl of water, but a perforated bag in the crisper drawer will work too.

Radish season will be over in a few weeks! I hope you enjoy this ancient spicy vegetable while they last!

Heirloom Popcorn: Cherokee Long Ear

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Our favorite popcorn is a pretty, heirloom variety called Cherokee Long Ear. The ears are gorgeous and the popped corn has a delightful nutty flavor that is delicious with just a sprinkle of salt. The variety was developed by members of the Cherokee Nation, likely from corn acquired through trade with other native groups. It is still grown today, thanks to the work of dedicated conservationists, and is loved by gardeners across the country. Cherokee Long Ear popcorn is prolific and relatively easy to grow, perhaps because it was developed in America before the use of heavy machinery and chemical fertilizers. The naturally tight husks protect the ears from pests, and the short stalks don’t make much demand on the land.

The hardest part of growing popcorn is the waiting…we pick the dried ears of corn in late October. Then, we wait. Oh, how we wait! After picking, the kernels have to dry even more before they will pop. The beautiful ears sit on rack near our wood stove, begging to be eaten – a cozy treat during the darkest days of winter. We know…we know…they they won’t be dry enough to pop until February or March, and yet we always attempt at test batch (which always fails) around the winter Solstice. When we’re brave enough to try again in early spring, we are rewarded with the yummiest, prettiest snack that also makes is feel great because we are helping preserve a bit of delicious history.

We’ll have bags of popcorn at the Zionsville Farmers’ Market starting on Saturday, May 16.

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The waiting!! Failed popping from New Year’s Eve (left). Success on March 4! (right)

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