Let me introduce you to one of our good friends. Sure, he’s pretty ugly. His skin is blueish/greenish which just seems weird. And he’s a big fella, larger than most of his family members. Don’t let this keep you from inviting him into your house though! He’s a real wonder in the kitchen. And he’s delicious. I present to you, Mr. Hubbard Squash.
The Hubbard squash is another one of those foods that I had no clue about until I got into the local food culture. And that’s not to say this squash only exists in New England. One story has the squash’s origin in Ohio, another in Marblehead, Massachusetts. That’s the beauty of farming and gardening, you can spread the love!
For me it was love at first sight. The monstrous size alone was enough to get my attention, and the fact that it was an odd blueish greenish grayish color just made it all the more intriguing. It was like something a Roald Dahl character might enjoy, grown perhaps in the same gardens as snozzcumbers.
My criteria can never be nailed down, but when it came to the Hubbard, I think my train of thought went something like this:
Weird looking? Check.
Bulk food ideal for storage? Check!
Tastes better than just about any other storage vegetable? That’s a big ol’ check.
The gift that keeps on giving
My love–OK obsession–has gone so deep that Amy actually got me a couple of Hubbard squashes for my birthday. And let me tell you, BEST GIFT EVER. I recommend everyone consider wrapping a Hubbard squash for your that special someone on your shopping list, or use it to make a lasting impression for a Yankee swap/white elephant exchange. No one will ever forget the down-to-earth person who brought the 20 lb squash!
Where to find a hubbard squash
If you are seriously interested in one of these magical squashes, I’ve actually seen chunks of them in stores, but the best way to do it, of course, is to #gowholesquash (hey it could catch on in the right context, right?). Why go to a store when your neighbor might have a patch of these? A lot of local farms grow these squashes alongside the best-selling pie pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. Ask around, shoot a few emails, like a farm on Facebook. We got ours from one of our favorites, Mountain Heartbeet, just a stone’s throw away in Effingham.
Healthy and Builds muscles!
The one problem with the Hubbard squash is that its immense size can be intimidating. Even we hesitate to dive into these monsters. A 20+ lb squash that is longer than your biggest pan can seem like it will take too much time, will be too much to eat, and, let’s face it, too much to lift!
But trust me, a lot of it is in your head. Give those arms a good workout and break down a Hubbard squash with us, and you’ll thank me in a few months when you still have plenty leftover for an off season pumpkin-but-actually-squash-because-they’re-interchangeable pie. Or maybe some squash muffins.
Here’s how we break down and process a hubbard squash:
1. Cut in half from top to bottom.
One time I did this with a knife. One time was too many! These squashes have like 1.5-2 inches of meat on them to stab through! We got the hot tip from a friend/farmer to use a hatchet, and we’ll never do it any other way. Just make a line with a series of sharp chops on both sides and you should be able to pry it open. And please note, doing this on your nicely finished dining table might not be wise. Unless you like the character a badly aimed hatchet swing brings to your tabletop.
2. Scoop out the seeds and guts.
Use a spoon, preferably a nice big one. You can compost the guts and seeds, but don’t be surprised if you get a few new vines from the compost pile in the summer!
3. Trim each half to fit in your largest baking sheet / roasting pan.
Resist the urge to cut it down into a few smaller chunks! We find that smaller chunks end up taking up more pan space than the half squash does. I took some off the top and some off the bottom.
4. Roast cut side down for 1-2 hours, until the flesh is very soft.
We used silicone baking mats to keep things clean. Lightly oiled foil or parchment will also work. If you have a huge oven or are very clever, you might be able to do the entire squash in one go. We did two separate roasting sessions.
5. Remove flesh from skin and puree (if desired).
A Hubbard squash’s flesh should easily separate from the skin when cooked. If you’re really cool you can keep it in one piece and make a fake turtle or something! (we aren’t that cool) We like to puree our squash before storing because, well, we always end up pureeing it.
6. Cool and store as desired.
We divided our completely cooled squash into sandwich bags, weighing it out in portions for our favorite squash/pumpkin recipes! Then we put these bags into a larger bag for somewhat organized freezing and retrieval on demand.
And now you can use your squash as you would use pumpkin, butternut squash, or basically any other winter squash. I find that Hubbard is a bit less watery than most other winter squashes and thus gives you firmer muffins and breads that will impress.
Hey squash fans! Check the blog often in the next two weeks, we’re celebrating the 12 Days of Squashmas and will be showcasing our favorite winter squash ideas!
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