White squash, also known as pattypan or scallop squash, is a type of summer squash and a member of the cucurbit vegetable family, which also includes pumpkins. It is known amongst the other squashes for its distinctively small size, flying saucer shape, and mild flavor. In addition to the color white, pattypans can also be yellow or green. Most of the vitamins and mineral salts are contained in the peel. One cup of boiled, mashed pattypan contains 38 calories.
As in the case of other summer squash types, the North America native pattypan plant is between 1 and 3 feet in height. It is easy to take care of and grows in compact vines.The plant produces coarse green leaves and edible yellow flowers. Blooming season is from mid- to late summer and the early fall.
Growth and Harvest
White squash grows best in warm soil and requires full sun for optimal development. Soil should be well drained and highly fertile. Water the plant frequently to keep the soil constantly moist. Harvest the fruits when they are still immature and tender. Ideally, they should measure 3 to 4 inches or less in diameter. Cut the squash from the vine with a sharp knife or shears.
Diseases and Pests
If the plants become infected with the bacterium Erwinia tracheiphila or viruses, remove affected plants immediately. To prevent mildew or scab, water them early in the day to allow drying of the leaves as quickly as possible. Remove all weeds around the plant to promote air circulation. Striped cucumber beetles are a common pest. To avoid infestation, cover plants with a fine net and remove it once the flowers bloom.
Like other summer squash types, pattypans can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, grilling, sauteing, roasting and frying. If the fruits are tender enough, you can leave them whole, cut them in half or cube them depending on the dish. Since their taste is not as sweet as other squashes, they can be easily paired or combined with meats, cheese and different herbs. White squash casserole is a hearty Southern favorite.
- University of Illinois Extension: Summer Squash
- Cornell University Growing Guide: Summer Squash
- USDA Nutrient Database: Scallop Summer Squash
- The Food Network; Paula Deen: Summer Squash Casserole
- "How to Cook Everything"; Mark Bittman; 2008
- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images