Early this year, while looking for new varieties of squash to try out, I spotted the Chersonskaya in the Seed Saver’s Exchange catalogue. More than anything I was attracted to its appearance. Their dusty blue color were nothing like I had seen before and I wanted them among my winter squash collection.
I planted the mammoth Chersonskaya seeds along side Burgess Buttercup, Dakota Dessert, and Thelma Sanders and waited. At times I wondered if I should have planted the very reliable Butternut, just in case.
The days shorted, the vines came down, and I had four Chersonskaya squash, averaging about 11 pounds each, taking up space in my tiny, tiny kitchen, three on the floor and one on the counter. To reclaim the counter space, I tried one out this week. I was a little nervous. The squash I grew did not turn out to be the light blue as pictured on the seed packet, maybe not maturing completely. Knowing there was only one way to find out, I placed the squash on the cutting board and sliced it open.
The squash had a light yellow flesh and was quite fragrant, a light sweet smell. The color was good, but not quite the yellow of the squash pictured on the seed packet, so I still was not convinced.
The inside was relatively soft compared to other squashes such as butternut or acorn, and the seeds and pulp scooped out very easily. I decided that since this was a taste test of sorts, I would just bake them, plain and simple.
I cut each half into three pieces and loaded them into two baking dishes. The pieces stood so tall I could only fit one dish at a time in my very small oven. I could not place the shelves wide enough apart to accommodate both pans and leave enough room between the top shelf and the ceiling of the oven.
I baked them about an hour, flipping them over once, and they came out like this.
As I pulled the first pan steaming out of the oven, I immediately picked off a chunk of flesh with a fork. I gave it a few minutes to cool. I took the first bite and was thoroughly delighted. Hands down, best winter squash I have tried yet! Sweet and light, just like it smelled.
So, if you are looking for a way to prepare the mammoth Chersonskaya just bake it and eat it plain. It does not need any embellishments. If you haven’t grown these yet, you won’t be sorry if you do next season. And, if you happen to spot one at a farmers’ market or farm stand, do not pass it up.
I set two pieces aside for dinner and then scooped six cups of squash into freezer bags for later eating. There may only be three left, but that is about 30 pounds of absolute perfection.