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Kenya Butternut is a vine like plant belonging to the cucurbitaceace family and most common among the winter –squash vegetables. Its scientific name is cucurbita moschata. The butternut tree is a herbaceous vining plant, its leaves are broadly rounded and heart shaped. Flowers are erect, lemon yellow to deep orange in colour. the fruit is normally yellow skin, large fruit with an upper long, thick neck attached to a pear like bottom weighing up to 15kgs.its pulp Is orange In colour with a hole filled with seeds inside the fruit. The plant is monoecious as pumpkins, and has distinct male and female flowers which require bees for effective fruiting.
This fruit is believed to have originated from Central America and spread throughout the word. Butternut is a warm season and annual plant which requires temperature of about 18 -24Cfor growth, well drained soils with high level of organic matter. A ph of around 6.0 to 6.5 are important. They require full sunshine at least 6 hours a day; they can be grown together with corn, onion, eggplant but not potatoes.
Kenya Butternut varieties
- Argonaut hybrid-this variety is ready in 140 days after planting, and bares very large fruits often weighing about 20 pounds. The fruit is bright orange, with a tender orange flesh and stores very well for long periods.
- Autumn glow-normally ready in 90 days, produces stocky fruits with an average of 8 inches with a golden yellow skin. Its flesh is tender sweet and nutty.
- Burpee`s butter bush- this variety is ready in 75days, with pale orange fruits, deep orange flesh, sweet flavor and buttery texture.
- Waltham butternut-is the most common type. Are pale yellow with sweet orange flesh. It matures in 85days, stores very well and good for traditional gardens.
- Butter boy hybrid- its fruits are light orange in colour and is ready in 80 days from the planting time.
HEATH FACTS OF KENYA BUTTERNUT
- Healthy looking skin and hair-butternut is also great for your skin because of its extremely high in vitamin A, which is needed for sebum production that keeps the hair moisturized. It provides over 50%of the required vitamin C, intake for a day, which is needed for the building and maintenance of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.
- Managing diabetes-butternut is high in fiber and low in sugar levels making it a perfect meal for diabetic individuals.
- Preventing asthma- risk of getting asthma is very low among people who consume foods high in bête-carotene, the antioxidant that gives certain fruits and vegetables including butternut their bright orange pigment. Therefore high consumption of butternut is a preventive measure of asthma.
- Low calories and fiber for losing weight-butternut is one of the healthiest vegetables for weight loss because of its low calorie content and high level of dietary fiber. There is only 75 calorie in one cup of butternut, which makes them one of the negative calorie foods considered for weight loss.
- Eye health-butternut is a better source of beta carotene which is turned to vitamin A in the body. This helps prevent eye problems such as dry eyes and night blindness. Also contains vitamin C, which helps protect you from getting cataracts or suffering from macular degeneration.
Selection and storage
Look for mature products that features fine woody note on tapping, and heavy in hand. Its stem should be stout and firmly attached to the fruit. Avoid those with wrinkled surface, spots, cuts and bruises. Store them in cool, humid –free, well ventilated place at room temperature.
Uses of Kenya butternut
- Roasted and tossed butternut squash seeds can be used as snacks
- Added in preparations of pies, pancakes, and bread
- Fresh raw butternut cubes can be added to vegetable salads
- Made into soups especially for infant , children and even adults
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