Silver Edged Squash

Botanical name:

Cucurbita argyrosperma

Local Spanish name:

Pipian

Collection site:

Plan del Rio, Highway 140, between Xalapa and Veracruz, Mexico.

Collection date:

1984

Historical origins:

Squash is one of the most important crops in the Americas, along with corn and beans. Cushaw squashes (Cucurbita argryrosperma) are believed to have been domesticated in Mesoamerica from Cucurbita sororia around 7000 years ago. Cushaw squashes are unique because they are generally cultivated for their seeds above all else. Their flesh of some varieties is also edible and they can be used as a summer or a winter squash.

Culinary uses:

The Silver Edged Squash is an important ingredient in Latin American cuisine. The seeds are often roasted and eaten as a snack, known as pepitas. The seeds are ground and used to make pipian sauce, which is a type of mole, and is served over chicken or enchiladas. The sauce is green and has a nutty flavor. The white and silver edge of the seed is actually an outer hull or husk. Inside the hull is a long green seed. This is what is grounds to make pipain sauce.
The flesh of this variety is generally unpalatable.

Nutritional benefits:

The seeds of Silver Edged Squash are high in protein, essential fatty acids, vitamin B-complex and vitamin E, copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.

Craft uses:

The round to pear shaped squash are often used for autumn decorations. The squash is white with greenish–silver stripes.

Socio-cultural importance:

Pipian is an important ingredient in the cuisine of the Mazahua people who inhabit the Mexican states of Michoacán and Querétaro. Mazahua cookery is tied closely to ritual and ceremony. Pipian forms the basis of the mole sauce which is served with Turkey on Patron Saint feast days and at weddings. Unlike chocolate based mole sauces, pipian mole sauces are green and contain tomatillos which work with the seeds to give the sauce a green hue. The white and silver edged hull o fthe squash seed is removed before grinding into a paste.

Cultivation techniques:

Traditionally, squash are planted in combination with corn and beans as part of the Three Sisters system. The large leaves of the squash cool the ground and shade the roots of corn and bean plants. Beans provide nitrogen to the soil and the corn provides a tall stalk for the beans to climb.

References:

Frank, Lois Ellen. (2002). Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

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