Rozenhof creamy gem squash – and free gem squash seeds!


RozenhofgemsquashThere are many Google search terms that lead people to this blog.  Sometimes they are pretty obvious, like "koeksusters" or "gammon glaze" or "terrines".  Sometimes they are a little oblique like "words of thanks" or "Barking Chinese supermarket".  And sometimes they are just plain scary like "stuffed African babes" or "my rude sister".  Moving rapidly along.

One of the most common searches that leads people here, though, is "gem squash" – which I take to be an indication that there are many homesick South Africans out there looking to buy them, or that there are a lot of confused foreigners wondering what to do with them after they arrived unexpectedly in the weekly organic box ūüėČ  Either way, I have never been able to provide much info on where to get the seeds outside of South Africa or how to grow them – I have stuck to the gem squash recipe side of the queries. 

However, two very helpful comments have been posted in the comments section of my original post which I thought I’d share with you here.  For those of you in the UK, Tom had this to say:

I bought some Gem Squash seeds from W.Robinson & Sons, Sunny Bank, Forton, Nr PRESTON PR3 0BN U.K. Tel:01524 791210.

I have sown them this year and am experiencing something of a glut. The only problem with them is that the spread all over the place and take over the veg patch. Mind you they are WONDERFUL!

And recently, an intriguing comment appeared on my blog from Keith, a South African ex-pat living in the USA – here is what he had to say:

If you live in the USA, send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and I will return it with about 20 gem squash seeds.  The seeds are saved from our current crop.

Keith Meintjes
3440 Wormer Dr
Waterford, MI 48329

We have done this for the last five years:  save some of your seeds to plant the following year.

And, if you need instructions to grow (and cook) Gem Squash, follow any guidelines you may find for Acorn Squash.

Offer expires March 31, 2007.

Although it’s only applicable to the USA (international customs regulations make it impractical to extend the offer elsewhere), I suspect this offer has the potential to make some homesick Saffers very happy.  So thanks Keith – and do take him up on his kind offer!

For those of you lucky enough to live somewhere that gem squash is more easily commercially available and who don’t have to wait till you can cultivate your own crop, here’s yet another recipe idea for gem squash that I made recently.  The recipe is another cut ‘n pasted recipe from an anonymous South African magazine, stuck into my big recipe book, but the original idea comes from Rozenhof, a much-loved Cape Town restaurant that has been around since the mid-1980s.  It’s real comfort food – perfect for the long, chilly evenings of autumn.

Gemsquashdetail ROZENHOF CREAMY GEM SQUASH (serves 4-6)


8 gem squash

375ml cream

100g butter

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2tsp sugar



Halve the squashes and steam (or microwave) until soft (you can boil them, but I find they become very waterlogged).  Scoop out and discard the seeds – but try not to throw out much flesh along with the seeds.  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the cream, butter, garlic and gem squash flesh.  Over low to medium heat, bring the mixture to the boil, stirring to combine the ingredients.  Allow to thicken – about 15 minutes.  The heat should be high enough to reduce liquid without burning the mixture.  Season with sugar and salt to taste and serve.  If your gem squash skins are rigid enough, you can scoop the mixture back into the skins to serve.

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  1. says

    You can often get gem squash in Waitrose, at least my local branch on Holloway Road has them regularly. Mind you compared to prices back in SA you will freak – 70p each!!!
    I love them so do fork out every so often. BTW your mention of Rozenhof brought back happy memories… you can take the girl out of Capetown, but you can’t take Capetown out of the girl! (middle-aged woman actually).

  2. kat says

    Hi there, your blog is really enjoyable!
    I must admit to having found it through searching Google for Gem Squash – and I see I’m not so special! I’m a Joburg girl living in Dublin, and like you, finding that cooking and exploring food is, whilst not a substitute for sunshine, family, and everything else I miss about home, a reasonable diversion in the interim! In the three years I’ve lived here I’ve seen many changes in the varieties of food available here in Ireland – namely there now is some! Increasing immigration is definitely improving the range of food available in a nation which considers three types of potato with a meal restrained. I have discovered a great greengrocer in Donnybrook (Roy Fox’s) who is investigating the possibility of acquiring gem squash – though I did have to describe and explain it to him. (Tesco here has only begun stocking butternut in the last year, and there’s no Waitrose in Eire.) There is a newish SA shop in town which imports amongst other things All Gold tinned foods. Which leads me to our family’s classic Gem Squash treatment – stuffing gem halves with All Gold creamed sweetcorn (green giant niblets ar no substitute!), topping with grated cheese and popping them under the grill. Yum yum. Now if only I could get the Gems, we’d be away!
    Thanks for the entertaining read!

  3. says

    I love Gem squash…get them from Tesco in Manchester. I tried making koeksisters for the first time the other day, didn’t realise they expand so much! I ended up with the monster ones. It scared everyone in my house!

  4. steve hart says

    we’ve been growing gem squash in a backyard vegi patch in melbourne australia for about fifteen years. climate similar to cape town. we plant usually the second week in september and they are ready to harvest in mid january, every year towards the harvest period we get what looks like powdery mildew on the leaves which hastens the plants dimise. wondered if you have the same problem in your climate and whether there are resistant varieties available?
    steve hart

  5. says

    Oh Jeanne, I must say I’ve been disappointed about the ‘flavourless’ squash you get here but this looks/sounds wonderful – the recipe is perfect for a cold, wintery day. (I miss Japanese kabocha too, they are so sweet and creamy…)

  6. Avis Blunden says

    Not sure if this is going to post – got here by googling gem squash and will try to order them via the Robinson link – left SA early 70’s, lived in England until 2000, now living in France – wonderful crop of butternut squashes last year – still miss those gem squashes so hoping to obtain some seed – I am sure they will do well

  7. Colleen says

    Homesick for gems and found some at Waitrose Richmond about three months ago. I took out the seeds before cooking and carefully sifted out the fat ones and planted them on my allotment patch much to the scorn and ridicule of family and friends. Now that they are growing happily I have no clue when they are ready to eat. Can anyone give me info on how long before you pick them and when they are ready to eat!!

  8. Bridget says

    Hi there
    Yes I also found you through “Gem Squash”.
    Tesco etc in the Isle of Man does not have gems, butternut is considered very exotic!
    I brought a few packets of seed back from South Africa last year.We planted them in June this year to make sure as far as we could that it was warm enough. Oh joy, oh happiness, we have a goodly crop on the way!I’m praying the warm weather holds for a few more weeks for them to fully ripen, they’re only golf ball size.
    Thanks Keith for the advice on properly storing the seed for next year. Since Keith’s offer is over I suggest all the rest of you get friends or family to post or bring some seed to you, and grow your own.Robinson and son Ltd in Lancashire will sell you 7 seeds for ¬£2!
    carry on gardening

  9. Max Longhin says

    Don’t forget that gemsquash are delicious if eaten whole …but only when they’re golfball size!!! You see, the seeds aren’t formed yet and the skin is so tender & tasty, like a courgette’s skin. If the gemsquash is bigger than a golfball, then cook, cut in half & season, without removing the seeds. Heaven on earth!!!!!!

  10. Sherry Gast says

    Also found you by googling “gem squash” I’m middle-aged now, but spent a few years in SA as a child, and to my childish brain I always thought they were “Jim Squash” until today when I got the bright idea that maybe that wasn’t quite right. My dad grew some here in Michigan from seeds from his last trip to SA, but we lost the crop of seed due to mold one year, and I haven’t found any since. I see the deadline for seeds from you is over – any ideas on how I can get some seeds now? Thanks so much – also homesick

  11. Patrick says

    I have managed to get seed from my local garden centre (Winter Squash F1 Rolet) from Moles Seeds. I have planted them in my green house and at present they are about 4″ high.
    Will let you know of the outcome as I have an allotment in Doncaster South Yorkshire.

  12. Jack C. says

    I too have landed here after a google search for gems. I am in Encinitas, north of San Diego where the climate is very similar to CT. I figure they will grow well here if I can locate seeds. Unfortunately, Keith’s offer was from 2007. If anyone does locate a source in the US or Keith is able to renew is offer for 2008, please post it back to here. Thanks

  13. Keith Hinton says

    Now available @ The Farm Store Kerikeri NZ, 8 Hall Rd Kerikeri ph 09 4077607 Gem Squash seedlings. $2.50 pot of three. Limited stock.

  14. Dale says

    I have planted a few Gemsquash seeds in Perth, Australia and the plants are growing quite quickly. The problem I have is that the leaves get a patchy white colour then die. Also, the blossoms flower then fall off without any squashes appearing. Anyone know what might be wrong here?

  15. Stephen Brown says

    I, too, found this site by Googling “gem squash”!
    I live in the south of England and have tried a number of gem squash-type seeds, including the Rolet F1. The Rolet F1 gives a dark green squash which, if left just a bit too long, gives a very fibrous squash not at all like a pukka Gem. When picked young, however, the Rolet F1 makes a very passable substitute and is most enjoyable.
    In England every cucurbit plant, including cucumbers, courgettes, butternuts and Rolet F1 suffer from downy mildew later in the growing season. It’s because the growing season simply is not long enough and the onset of the cooler weather stresses the plants which makes them vulnerable to mildew for which there is no cure. Taking care not to wet the leaves when watering helps.
    To delay the onset of mildew grow the plants in full sun, if possible construct a temporary greenhouse over the plants with wooden battens and clear polythene sheeting. Keep cold winds away from the plants and you should have crops to boast about.
    A handy hint … Dig the planting hole far too big, place a handful or two of 3-4 day-old grass clippings in the hole, add some compost and some slow-release fertilizer and then plant your seedlings on top. If you have a compost heap, grow your Gems on the heap!
    We’ve had some very enjoyable crops this way.
    Oh, I brought some seeds from the Cape with me to the UK. I select 3 or 4 fruits to keep as ‘seeders’ for the next year. I let them grow for as long as possible before picking them. I remove the seeds about a month after picking, I dry the seeds in a dark spot (not artificially warmed) and once dry, I keep them in a fridge until the following year.
    Works for me!!

  16. Karen Perry says

    Just to let you know that I odered Gem Squash seeds through the “Diggers Club” in Australia this year. I have recently planted my seeds although after a week they had not germinated. Holding thumbs that they will.

  17. Laurette Rhodes says

    Thank you so much….I have requested a catalogue from W.Robinson & sons…..
    I have a few people who will be very pleased with the Gem squash seeds…….

  18. Adrianne Holterman says

    This is so good! I live on Scotland Island in the Pittwater in Sydney and have planted a gem squash in a big pot on my patio. It’s been growing ferociously and has flowers…….and one has fallen off……and white on the leaves……does this mean it’s not happy, and will I get fruit. What to do?
    Does it have any chance in a big patio Pot?

  19. Celeste says

    This is great info, thanks guys!
    Question, I’m in Sydney Aus and want to plant as well. I can buy the gem’s from a SA store. When is a good time to plant and how long does it take for the plants to grow and produce fruit?

  20. Keith Meintjes says

    Expiration date canceled!
    I have been providing free Gem Squash seeds in the USA for a number of years, and will continue to do so.
    If you want some seeds, send an e-mail with your name and mailing address to
    If you are outside the USA, send me a self-addressed envelope with sufficient US postage affixed. The seeds may, or may not, arrive. For example, I have sent seeds to Canada, but mail outside the USA may fall victim to customs.
    We had the first of our 2010 gem squash crop at dinner last night. Wonderful!

  21. Gloria Hodge says

    Hi Im a Southafrican Nzealander and just looking to find out if gems sqash need to be staked or if they just like going all over the ground. I never tried growing them in SA in all the 45 years I lived there.
    Thank you for your help.

  22. Schalk says

    Kiora. I am a former Capetonian living in Auckland, New Zealand. In November I bought a packet of gem squash seeds from the local branch of Bunnings. Five of them germinated and are now rampaging through my veggie garden. I have started harvesting them and will be eating the first three tonight. I plan to pierce them before popping them in the microwave. (Piercing is essential if you want to avoid a very yellow explosion in your microwave!)

  23. says

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    to enter in even one more “captcha” just to leave feedback,
    I’ll go mad. Spammers make all of our lives harder. Hang all spammers!