Squash Wars: Long Island Cheese

“…use it as a paperweight, a doorstop, or a soup container, but whatever you do, don’t eat it.”

– Amy Goldman about Long Island Cheese

Long Island Cheese squash was a pleasant surprise that I found at the Vancouver farmer’s market while I was visiting. I had only ever seen pictures of it before, and had read in Amy Goldman’s book The Compleat Squash that it was coarse and inedible, but she wrote the same thing about Nippon Island, one of my favourite squashes, so I figured I would give it a try. The market seller was surprised that I knew the variety, and said that it doesn’t sell well because people are usually unfamiliar with it. My mother became a big fan of this squash when she tried it too, and planned to go back to the market and buy more next week.

The skin is thin and edible, and the flesh is pretty dense and takes longer to bake than I expected for a small squash. The seed cavity is a striking bright orange with black seeds, which is cool, though they are small so not idea for baking. The meat of the squash is textured (or maybe coarse) but in a pleasant way, like if maybe you had a squash where one grandparent was a spaghetti squash or something (though they are unrelated). It’s not a very sweet squash either, but does have a pleasant flavour, sort of comparable in sweetness to a futsu.

Long Island Cheese belongs to the species moschata, which is neat since most squash available in North America are maxima (Hubbards, buttercup, kuri, banana, kabocha, turban, all the blue Australian squashes and lots more) or pepo (spaghetti, pumpkin, zucchini, and most summer squashes). The only really common moschatas are butternut, futsu, and some Italian summer squashes, though the latter aren’t even that common. Anyway, I would definitely get it again.

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