The Humble Pear Squash

When you were younger, did you ever detest a particular vegetable or fruit? In my case it was this squash. I hated it but it was one vegetable that was easily available/grown so I could never totally ignore it! I only started liking it in my early twenties! When I read up on this I was surprised to know that the vegetable has several aliases. Locally, it is known as Isquaas, a corrupted version of “squash”.

The Pear Squash/Sechium edule is also known as chayote, vegetable pear, chuchu, chow-chow, christophene, mirliton, and chocho. It belongs to the same family as cucumbers and melons. A Central American native, it has been successfully cultivated in tropical regions of the world.

It has a single seed and the flesh is crisp, somewhat like a water chestnut. Although the seed is edible and has a nutty flavour, we discard it. Some things are done out of sheer habit. We usually have it cooked as a vegetable dish or added to fish or meat. The taste is bland but fresh-from-the-vine-squash tastes  really good. Especially if they are tender. With the skin intact.The pear squash is said to be rich in amino acids and vitamin C. All parts are edible; the young shoots and tender leaves are particularly delicious.

The heart-shaped leaves of the pear squash vine on a bamboo trellis. It’s growing (in my mother’s backyard) in a spot where it gets full sun in the mornings and shade in the afternoons. The tiny cream-coloured bloom.The fruit on the vine.The ‘budding’ fruit. From the little protrusion, leaves will sprout. I only included this to show how it grows. The squash is then placed in a shady area on sandy soil. When a few leaves make their appearance, it can be planted. In order to plant squash, the best, mature fruit must be chosen. The specimen shown above will grow but will not produce a good crop. The vine lasts for 3-4 years.It is said that when the pear squash vine is trained to climb the jackfruit tree, the crop is bounteous. Symbolic? Maybe. One prolific bearer supports the other:) Or maybe the shade from the tree provides the required conditions for the vine to produce well.

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About Kanak Hagjer

Hello from north-east India! I love to blog about all things floral and foliar and sharing the beauty of my region is what I am most passionate about!
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16 Responses to The Humble Pear Squash

  1. Diana says:

    Hello, Kanak. That is a most unusual looking squash, and the sliced fruit does indeed look like a pear. Our experience is for most of the specimen to have rather smooth skins, like our yellow squash and zucchini (dark green), of which all parts are edible, including the blossom. And for the vine to live for 3-4 years, that is quite unique.

    • kanak7 says:

      Diana, to see comments like this one makes it worthwhile to write about common vegetables of my region. There is a smooth variety too but we mostly get these with ‘bristles’.

  2. lotusleaf says:

    Hi Kanak! I too disliked this vegetable as a child, but I like it now. It grows profusely in the gardens in Bangalore. In fact, it is called ‘Bangalore Baingan’n Delhi!

  3. I’m still not a squash eater! and I know nothing about them at all. No wonder it got that name as its so like a pear. It looks fabulous as a vine growing up that tree. I was a very picky child!

  4. islandgal246 says:

    We call this squash christophene and I use it in stir fry . It can be used raw in salads, baked stuffed, au gratin and steamed. I love this squash. I read recently that the root tubers are also eaten in South America and Mexico. I have tried growing it without success. It is grown locally in the cooler areas of the island. there is also white variety as well.

    • kanak7 says:

      Helen, thanks for all that info. I don’t think we have the white variety here. It’s interesting to know how you have/cook the vegetable.

  5. Susie says:

    I love squash but I have never heard of or seen this one before.

  6. Mildred says:

    I love squash too and am delighted to learn about this variety. Such interesting info Kanak and I love your photos. Thank you for sharing and blessings to you and yours.

    • kanak7 says:

      Mildred, glad to read your comment. It’s surprising to find/read up online about a vegetable that one never had much regard for. At least when i was younger. Regards to you and John.

  7. Stephanie says:

    It’s good for boiling soup with carrot (and meat!) 😀 Those jackfruits wow! Can have a really good fruit party when they ripens. he he…

  8. Titania says:

    Here it is called Choko and it has the right name!
    When someone approaches me, “do you want to grow a choko”? I run a mile! Nevertheless it is actually quite nice to eat….unless there is a tonne of them. I like jackfruit, it has such a delicate taste. Unfortunately my area is not well suited for jackfruit. I have to stick with choko if I must.

    • kanak7 says:

      Trudi…that made me laugh!! I know what feelings a tonne of choko can evoke:D With jackfruit, our area does very well. Tonnes of seeds (too) are now available in the markets. We had a dish of jackfruit seeds for lunch today. Yummy!

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