Kruknek or torticollis is a strange plant that resembles either zucchini, or pumpkin, or both of these vegetable crops together. In fact, a crookneck is one of the varieties of pumpkin, which got its name from the English "crooked neck" - a twisted neck. Few people have heard of him, although in Russia he appeared in the nineteenth century.
Description and useful properties of the plant
Crookneck got its name for a reason. It is distinguished from other species by the characteristic shape of the fruit. They are more like a huge pear slightly curved at the top. This is an annual plant native to Central America. Cultivated in Canada and the USA, Europe and Southeast Asia. It gained great popularity in Holland.
This squash has a highly branched root system, heart-shaped small leaves and solitary yellow flowers.
The surface of the fruit is usually tuberculate, but sometimes it is smooth, most often white or cream, but also yellow and bright orange.
Crookneck is a thermophilic plant and does not tolerate frost at all. It is drought tolerant but loves heavy watering. This vegetable prefers fertile soil and sunlight.
This plant is often used for dietary purposes, as well as in clinical nutrition. It is useful for vascular and heart diseases, as well as for problems with the digestive system.
Regular consumption of this vegetable reduces the risk of obesity, fights bad cholesterol, and improves kidney and urinary system function.
Crookneck is widely used for culinary purposes. It can be boiled and stewed, salted, pickled and canned. They make delicious and healthy vegetable broths and soups. Such zucchini are stuffed with vegetables or meat, and also frozen for the winter. Raw vegetables are used as one of the ingredients of vegetable salads, and caviar is also made from them.
In fact, this variety of pumpkin can be perfectly stored at room conditions without freezing. They can be freely stored until about January-February. At the same time, they absolutely do not lose their taste and useful properties.
For a long time, due to their bright color and original shape, kruknecks were used in Russia for decorative purposes. They decorated kitchen gardens and orchards, as well as household plots. Later it turned out that these amazing plants are superior in healing qualities to their counterparts - squash and zucchini.
The valuable composition of crookneck allows it to influence the metabolic processes in the body, so this vegetable is very useful for diabetes.
It is also used for the prevention and treatment of:
- coronary heart disease;
- obesity and overweight;
- metabolic disorders;
- diseases of the heart and blood vessels;
- chronic pathologies of the digestive system and kidneys.
To make this delicacy you will need:
- 1 kg;
- onion - 3 heads;
- vegetable oil - 3 tablespoons;
- garlic - 2 cloves;
- tomato paste - 100 grams;
- vinegar - 1 tablespoon;
- salt, pepper, herbs.
Rinse and grind crooknecks in a meat grinder. Put the resulting mixture in a cast iron pan, salt, season with spices and simmer under the lid until soft. Chop the onion and fry in oil, and about five minutes before the end add the sautéed tomato paste.
Cool the finished caviar, season with vinegar, herbs, chopped garlic and pepper.
For cooking you will need:
Wash the crooknecks, cut off the skin and remove the seeds. Then grate them or pass through a meat grinder. Add sugar, salt, flour and egg yolks to the resulting gruel. Mix everything thoroughly, then add whipped proteins. From the resulting mixture, fry the pancakes in vegetable oil.
Growing and caring for crooknecks
Crooknecks are grown in much the same way as zucchini. They need timely watering, loosening the soil and getting rid of weeds. The optimum temperature for them is twenty-five to twenty-eight degrees Celsius. The cold is detrimental to the plant. In settled cool weather, the leaves instantly turn pale and the ovaries no longer appear.
However, too high a temperature also has a negative effect on the plant. In this case, only male inflorescences appear.
But with all the difficulties, crookneck has a significant precocity and a rich harvest.
The plant is very demanding on soil fertility. Therefore, it must be prepared in advance. It should be airy, flavored with organic fertilizers. On clay or swampy soils, such vegetables do not grow.
In order for the plant not to cross-pollinate with other members of the gourd family, it must be planted as far away as possible.
It is best to grow crookneck through seedlings, which are sown in peat pots with humus and mineral fertilizer complexes.
Seedlings are planted in open ground at the age of thirty to thirty-five days, and before that it must be hardened off.
It is best to plant seedlings on a warm spring day in the afternoon in well-warmed soil, for which it is first covered with a film for insulation. It is advisable to wrap the sprouts at night, and remove the cover in the morning. Water the plant with warm water to reduce the risk of disease. Moreover, it is necessary to ensure that moisture does not get into the plant itself, to prevent rotting.
Caring for crooknecks is painstaking, but everything pays off in full with high yields and precocity. The plant needs constant monitoring: it is necessary to regularly cut off old leaves and rotten fruits. Once every three weeks, they should be sprinkled with humus, peat or soil to prevent the root system from being exposed.
Among other things, crookneck flowers open in the late afternoon, making them inaccessible to diurnal insects. Therefore, plants are often pollinated artificially.
It is also necessary to harvest fruits in a timely manner, since only young plants have such powerful healing properties and taste. And the bark of overripe vegetables is so hard that you need a hatchet or a hacksaw to cut it.
Crookneck is practically the same plant as squash, but much more demanding to grow and requires considerable care. But at the same time, it has a high yield and significant precocity, which more than covers all labor costs. In addition, the rich vitamin and mineral complex of this plant makes it popular in folk medicine, and its taste is highly valued in cooking.