The fascinating CITROUILLE DE TOURAINE

By Randel Agrella

Squash plants grow in lavish gardens in Touraine, France. (Image courtesy of Fotolia)

 

Citrouille de Touraine is a splendid French heirloom cultivated for centuries in the province of Touraine, France. There, it was grown for animal feed and for its amazing seeds, which are delicious and were esteemed for reputed medicinal properties. And they are huge! We're so excited to be able to offer this venerable heirloom type, which is incredibly rare in the US.

 

This very antique French heirloom was known at least as early as the late 18th century. It was amply described by Vilmorin-Andrieux, the legendary early French seedsmen who published the invaluable 1856 classic, "Description des plantes potagères" ("Description of Vegetable Plants"). They wrote: "Light green or mottled bark, nuanced white or pale red, white flesh rose slightly yellowish. Wide, flat seed... the largest of its kind." And very large the seeds are--the largest seeds of any pepo squash we have ever seen or even heard of! The seeds have a curious wide margin around the edge and are very unique.

 

The cream to yellow flesh is very thin, fibrous and spongy, but in its native France, Citrouille de Touraine has been used in soups and jams, and occasionally preserved in vinegar as a pickle. There, the seeds were compared to almonds and pressed for oil. It's these gi-normous seeds that are the real prize. They are such a treat, lightly salted and roasted!

 

To Purchase Citrouille De Touraine Winter Squash Seeds Go HERE
 

The fruits are rather large, being oblong to 30" in length, and the weight has been known to reach well over 30 pounds. The fruits are very unusual-looking, slightly ribbed and curiously marbled and striped in green and yellow. Such large fruits need a large plant to produce them, and Citrouille de Touraine vines can run as much as 15 feet. The vines are covered with very large, deeply lobed leaves, occasionally splashed in silver.

 

You grow Citrouille as you would any winter squash—plant seeds or young transplants into good, rich organic soil in full sun after danger of frost has passed. Like all squash plants, they need plenty of moisture and good drainage. Control pests in the usual ways. When fruits begin to set on, thin to 2-3 per branch if you want the largest possible fruits. With any luck, you'll end up with gorgeous, highly decorative, massive fruits after about 100 days. The pumpkins store well, lasting up to five months in good storage conditions, allowing you to whipupa batch of toasted pumpkin seeds all winter long!

 

To Purchase Citrouille De Touraine Winter Squash Seeds Go HERE

 

We strongly recommend saving seeds from this singular winter squash. But if you do, remember that it belongs to the squash species Cucurbita pepo, so it will cross with other pepo varieties in or near the garden. Some common pepo varieties include Zucchini and most other summer squash, Delicata, most acorn types, and Connecticut Field pumpkin. Isolate your Citrouille de Touraine by a half-mile from all other pepo varieties, or bag immature blooms and hand-pollinate.

 

To Purchase Citrouille De Touraine Winter Squash Seeds Go HERE