If you are used to thinking of squash as the ubiquitous butternut squash you can buy in supermarkets then Uchiki Kuri will knock you over with it’s intense chestnut flavour. . In fact the word Kuri in Japanese can refer to either these squash or to chestnuts and in France they would be known as Portimarron (chestnut pumpkin). Once you have tried one of these then you will never want to eat or grow a butternut ever again. It is a rival to the famous crown prince squash and has the advantage of being slightly smaller
The red Hubbard was originally developed on the island of Hokkaido after the Americans brought the Hubbard squash to Japan in 1878. The Hubbard in the genetics makes Kuri a good storing squash and should be stored for 2 months to improve sweetness before eating and should keep for another two months after that. Thankfully Kuri are much more petite than other Hubbards, weighing around 1.5kg, each one has between 2 and 4 servings. They ripens early so it one of the more reliable squash in the UK.
Uchiki Kuri is just one of the red Hubbard varieties available but they are all recognisable by their size, pumpkin shape and deep orange to red colour.
In the kitchen
Uchiki Kuri is a rich, nutty squash. It’s texture is slightly more floury than you might be used to. Try roasting until caramelised, as a filling for pasta or adding to soups, casseroles, risotto, stews, curry or dhal.
Yields and plant health
Uchiki is ready fairly early compared to some squash which is good in the less than ideal UK climate. You will get a handful of 4-8 portion squash per plant. Each squash is around 1.5kg each. Plants are generally healthy but may suffer mildew later in the season, especially if watering is insufficient.
Widely supplied but can be bought from
Sow in April undercover. I like to sow in root trainers which are long thin pots which split open to release the plant for planting. They are ideal for big seeds or plants that don’t like having their roots disturbed. Fill the root trainer with compost. Push one to two seeds per root trainer about 1.5 cm deep. Water and top up with compost if needed. Keep moist but not damp. If the squash gets too big for the root trainer before you can plant in the ground you will need to plant in to a larger pot. You will probably have to pot on at least once before planting out. The addition of heat in the form of a propagator or warm room when sowing will increase success.
Plant out after all risk of frost has passed, with each plant at least 1 meter apart. Squash are sprawling plants that like to grow in full sun, in a very fertile but well drained soil, enriched with copious amounts of well rotted manure. Water well at the base of the plant during warmer weather. A stick placed at the base of the plant on planting out can be a useful way of finding the base again once your squash plant has turned in to a monster. Just as it is hard to over water your squash, it is almost impossible to overfeed it. These are hungry plants and will relish weekly feeding.