North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash–A Southern Delight
With prices inflating and food supplies wavering every day, it’s a great time to get growing–and the North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash is a great one because of several reasons.
Why grow the North Georgia Candy Roaster?
- It’s one of those “famous in these parts” kind of thing.
- Its size!
- This thing is huge! Weighing in at between 8-15 pounds, this squash can provide several large meals!
- Similar to a mild butternut or pumpkin, this squash makes delicious baked delights, but also wonderful pie!
It’s so easy to grow!
- Just stick it in a fertile hill, and walk away. Check back in a couple months and pick up your bounty!
Thanks to some friends who lived in North Georgia, we were gifted with a North Georgia Candy Roaster a couple of autumns back. We cooked it, then ate it, enjoyed our gift, and saved the seeds.
Now, I had no idea if those seeds would grow, but why not try, right?
Well…too bad, because I forgot about the seeds.
Thankfully, though, I either 1) found the little bag of seeds sometime and poked a few into the compost pile, or 2) (more likely) we threw out the innards from the squash when we cooked it, and it sat there until growing time, when it sprouted out. Sad to say, I cannot remember which.
See: Gardening Approaches. Squirrels vs Scientists.
Either way, last summer, we ended up with a huge squash plant that spread halfway to Georgia on its own! No one exactly knew what we’d end up with at first, until we saw that distinctive banana-like shape forming. I was thrilled (squash lover), my guys were dubious (Apparently my culinary skills with the first go-round didn’t impress them).
We ended up with a ton of the squash, and have been working on them all winter long! I think our one plant made about thirteen squashes! They store well as long as they’re not nicked in some way. They obviously don’t keep well if abused (don’t ask me how I know that).
Here’s a bit more info on the squash, from Specialty Produce
North Georgia Candy Roaster squash can grow to be very large, averaging 30 to 45 centimeters in length and 10 to 15 centimeters in diameter, and has an elongated, straight to slightly curved shape with tapered ends. The 8 to 15-pound squash has smooth, semi-thin skin, covered in shallow striations, and bears variegated hues of pink, orange, tan, gray, green, and blue. Underneath the surface, the flesh is yellow-orange, fine-grained, and crisp, encasing a long, central cavity filled with stringy fibers and flat, cream-colored seeds. North Georgia Candy Roaster squash develops a smooth and creamy consistency when cooked and has a high sugar content, creating a sweet, nutty flavor. It is important to note that as the squash is kept in storage, it will develop an even sweeter taste.
I can heartily agree with the description. The first time I cooked our North Georgia Candy Roaster, we thought that it tasted a little bland. However, the next time, after being stored for some months, and slow roasting it, we did notice a sweeter, nuttier, more butternutty taste.
You can scout around if you live in the South–Chances are good that someone has grown one of these squash and saved the seeds. If so, grab some if they’re willing to share! If not, you can find just about anything on Amazon these days, including the North Georgia Candy Roaster seeds.
Planting North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash.
- Prepare your soil with rich compost or similar amendments.
- Make a hill, as like with all squash
- Place 3-4 seeds per hill, at 1″ depth, or if not planting in hills, sow seeds 6″ apart.
- Water regularly until sprouted, then these squash are pretty carefree. You can mulch your hills to keep the moisture in.
- Make sure to add compost or fertilizer, since squash are heavy feeders.
- Mature in about 100 days.
Harvesting the North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash
- Wait until the vine dies back in the Fall, then simply collect the large squashes, which grow in abundance. You’ll want to harvest your candy roasters before the first frost. The skin should be hard.
Storing the North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash
Store your Candy Roaster in a cool, dark place, like a root cellar or basement for around 5 months. I know we’ve stored ours for up to 8 in our cool basement, as long as they’re not blemished. better?
We stored ours with our potatoes from last year. You can see which one stored better.
Eating the Candy Roaster
This is the best part! You should know that cutting into the North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash is a commitment.
The Candy Roaster is very versatile!
- Roast in slices or sliced in half and cover to bake
- Skillet fry
- Boil and mash
- Pressure cook
- Slice and bake
- Cook down and make into pie (delicious)
- Eat savory or sweet
- Make soup
- Dry it for later
- Freeze it
- Can it
- Add it to breads or smoothies
- Use your imagination!
The Candy Roaster makes an excellent pie!
The North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash is considered open pollinated. This means that it can cross pollinate with other similar squashes within a 1 MILE radius. This won’t affect the squash that you grow this year, but if you save the seeds, they may not be a pure strain. Therefore, the next years’ squash will be affected.
Those who know and love this squash variety are very interested in preserving the pure strain, as it holds tremendous cultural significance with the Cherokee people, who used the Candy Roaster historically. This is one of the main squash utilized in the well-known Three Sisters method of interplanting. The corn and pole beans grow at the top, and the Candy Roaster sprawls all out below, its giant leaves shading out the weeds, and feeding on the nitrogen which the beans add to the soil.
The North Georgia Candy the is considered among many old timers to be the best tasting squash.
You can read more interesting facts about the Candy Roaster Squash at Local Harvest
In Our Garden
This year I took a handful of seeds and planted several. I literally poked one or two in some rock crevices, along the row of berries, and we threw out one squash that didn’t make it through the Winter. I added some composted leaves and water, then waited (I told you in this post Gardening Approaches. Squirrels vs Scientists about my tendency to do that).
I’m pretty sure every seed sprouted. 🌱
That our family had better get used to this squash! Because we will have it covering the property!
I purposely planted the seeds where they can sprawl down over banks. I’ll let you know if we can keep it under control! The composted leaves are rich in nutrients, and last year the candy roasters loved it!
Do the Math
Last year we had ONE vine. And 13 squash.
This year I king of lost track (squirrel brain) of how many we have popping up, but I’m thinking it’s like 11. Hey–I didn’t know if they’d grow! If we indeed get 143 North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash, you’ll see us coming. Just look for that yellow glow on the horizon. Get your shades out, because we are going to be bright!
Let me know–
- Have you heard of the North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash?
- Have you grown it?
- Have you ever eaten this squash?
- What did you think about it?
Grow, grow, grow!
Now’s the time to plant and sow!
What you get you’ll never know
Until you grab your rake and hoe
Plant the squash
No need to mow
Just get outside
And Grow, grow, grow!
I’m stopping before you start throwing tomatoes!
Have a great day!
If the first squash appear ripe in August, and they’re 100 days along, is it better to pick the first ones or leave them all until the vines die back in fall? I live in New England, BTW. I’d love to hear your answer. I’ll check back. Otherwise great site, great info. Thanks.
I don’t have a lot of experience, so I’m just guessing. They usually say to let the vines die back, and it seems like the longer you leave them to ripen, the sweeter they will get. But if they’re soggy and in wet ground where they’d rot, then I’d get them. But I’m just totally guessing, because I’m still a rookie.
Thanks for stopping in and be sure to let me know what happens!
We lived in Blairsville–northern GA for almost six years. This is the first time that I am hearing about this. The churches that we went to have congregations that lived up there for their entire lives.
I checked with a few–never heard of this. Would definitely love to try this. Can you post where to get the seeds?
I will try I think in the post there’s a link. I know Baker Creek sells seeds. Now, there are apparently a couple different squashes with the same name. I’ll look up the seeds but check the post.
And I’d definitely check with the old timers.