Blue Hubbard Squash

Squash HubbardThe peak-season for winter squashes is from mid-autumn through early winter.

The Blue Hubbard Squash—which is also called the New England Blue Hubbard—is a great choice for a sweet tasting winter squash to serve on a cold, late autumn evening. The flesh of the Blue Hubbard is deep orange. It is dense and starchy and has the nutty, sweet taste of a sweet potato.

The Blue Hubbard is best steamed or baked. You can serve it topped with brown sugar or maple syrup and a pat of butter right in the empty seed cavity. It can also be mashed or puréed with butter and seasoning before serving.

Unlike summer squashes, winter squashes like the Blue Hubbard are allowed to mature on the vine. Their skin is hard and inedible—unlike summer squash such as zucchini. While winter squashes get their start in the summer along side summer squashes, their thick rinds allow them to be stored for many months—right through the winter.

The Blue Hubbard grows to about 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter and can weight from about 11 to 20 pounds (4.9 to 9 kg). It has a dusky gray-blue skin. There is an orange golden-skinned version of the Blue Hubbard–called the Golden Hubbard–which is slightly smaller and is more orange on the inside and out than golden. But the Golden Hubbard is less flavorful and hardly sweet at all.

Select. When choosing a winter squash, select a squash that is rock hard. There should be no give when you press the skin. The stems should be full and corklike. Avoid winter squashes with soft spots or bruises.

The winter squash harvest begins in August and runs through March, but the peak season is from October through January. Other winter squashes include the acorn, buttercup, butternut, kabocha, spaghetti and pumpkin.

Store. Winter squashes will sweeten off the vine if they are stored in a cool, dry place. They should be stored unwrapped at less than 50°F (10°C) and will keep for up to 6 months.

Prepare. You can bake the Blue Hubbard whole. Just poke it with a knife in a few places so that it doesn’t explode in the oven. Like other winter squashes, the Blue Hubbard can also be roasted: cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and place the squash cut side up in a shallow pan of water. Roast at 400° F (204°C) for 1 hour.

By the way, if the Blue Hubbard is too much squash for you and your family, the Baby Blue Hubbard is a cross between a buttercup squash and the Blue Hubbard. It tastes the same but maxs out at abut 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter and weighs from about 3 to 5 pounds (1.3 to 2.3 kg).

(If you decide to grow your own next season and go looking for seed or plant starts in the spring, the Blue Hubbard’s botanical family is Cucurbita maxima.)