Cushaw Pumpkin


by Donny Heston

Unsuspectingly, I took a packet of Jere Gettle’s white cushaw seeds and planted four hills, each a hoe-handle length apart.

By frost, I have no idea how many hundreds of pounds I’d harvested.

And since they’re good keepers, a lot of the cushaws are still in our machine shop, waiting to be cooked down and frozen. They look like Shmoos from the Lil’ Abner cartoons, in case you wondered.

Since our family’s not known for wasting food, we started looking for things to do with cushaw.

This custard recipe is one of the results.

February 5, 2008

Cushaw Custard

from Donny Heston

  • 2 cups butchered cushaw* (see below)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour

Combine all ingredients in order of listing. Pour into a well-greased, 8-inch, deep-dish pie pan and place in a 350°F oven for 45 to 55 minutes.


We don’t recommend using store bought pumpkin, but if you can’t get a cushaw of your very own, it will have to do. If so, get a 16-oz can of pumpkin.

Also, the half-and-half can be substituted with 1 can of evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk!).

* How To Butcher A Cushaw...

Cut the cushaw pumpkin up, peel off the skin, simmer in a large kettle (with water) until soft, then drain.

Mash or blend. Be sure to save out two cups for making custard. Pour the remaining pumpkin into zip-lock bags and freeze.

Many thanks to Donny Heston, Deana Davis and Jere Gettle for their contributions to this page.

February 5, 2008.

plate 1. Shmoo In The Cradle (Jonathan's Pumpkin or White Cushaw), February 5, 2008.

As a side note, this particular cushaw weighed in at 20.5 pounds. Now that’s prolific! — the editor

What Are Cushaws?

There are several types of cushaws pumpkins and chances are, you'll never meet one in your supermarket. They have extremely mild, sweet flesh and seem to grow prolifically.

Cushaw White (Jonathan Pumpkin), 100 days (C. Mixta)

A rare Cushaw type; white skin and sweet, pale orange flesh. Easy to grow, huge yields, and good resistance to squash bugs. A popular heirloom from the South.

Orange Cushaw, (C. Mixta)

Large, beautiful fruit with crooked necks, light golden-orange color. The large vines are vigorous and are good for the South. Great for fall pumpkin sales.

Green Striped Cushaw, 95 days (C. Mixta)

Big, white fruit with small green stripes; oblong with crooked necks and bulbous bottoms. The large vines are vigorous and are good for the South. A Native American squash that has an ancient history.

Hopi Cushaw (C. Mixta)

Stunning pear-shaped fruit are beautifully splashed in various amounts of green and orange. Fruit grow to 15-17 pounds, and were used by Native Americans for their tasty seeds. A lovely ornamental variety that is part of Native Americana.

— Pumpkin descriptions from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

“...[A]nd were used by Native Americans for their tasty seeds....”

Cushaw seeds taste really great toasted. Wash and separate seeds from the pulp. Spread them evenly on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with good salt and bake in a warm oven (200°F) for around an hour.

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