23 November, 2008

Blue Hubbard Squash

That big blue-green football-shaped thing in the picture at left is a Blue Hubbard squash. It's almost 24 inches long, weighs about twenty pounds or so, and it's sitting in my kitchen sink because I just finished rinsing the field mud off of it so I can roast it in the oven.

I love winter squash of all kinds, but Blue Hubbard is my favorite variety. It's often grown along with pumpkins here in the Connecticut River valley and sold as an autumn ornamental gourd (just like pumpkins) because over the years, people have stopped eating it and just use it to decorate the front of their house, along with dried ears of "indian corn," pumpkins, and cornstalks.

Having it widely available as an ornamental works out pretty good for me. The farms in South Hadley MA where we buy our winter vegetables for long-term storage sell a lot of Blue Hubbards, for about $3.00 each. So every year we buy two or three of these monsters, roast them, and freeze the ready-to-eat portions for easy use through the year. A huge, twenty-pound squash sounds like a lot, but after the seeds are scooped out and the hard rind is trimmed off, there's somewhat less to package.

Processing a Blue Hubbard squash is a daunting task if you've never done it before, what with that big intimidating rock-hard blue shell, but in reality it's not that difficult. Start by giving the gourd a light scrubbing under clear running water - like pumpkins, Hubbards are heavy and field-grown and often have a thick crust of dirt on the ground-contact side. After the bath, put the squash on a heavy cutting board and use a strong meat cleaver to deliver a fast, hard strike dead center. Don't be afraid, and don't pull your punch, and THE SQUASH WILL SPLIT IN TWO LIKE THE SKULL OF YOUR ENEMY AS YOU CLEAVE HIS HELM WITH YOUR BROADSWORD.

Inside, the Blue Hubbard consists of hard, brittle, golden-yellow flesh surrounding a central fibrous core loaded with thick-hulled seeds. Scoop out the fibers and seeds. You can roast and eat the seeds just like pumpkin seeds if you like, but the thick hulls are kind of brittle and nasty. Give them to your chickens (if you have them) or just leave the seed mass in a pile under your bird feeder for the squirrels.

Once the seeds are scooped out wield thy cleaver once again, using sharp, fast strikes to split the squash into several manageable chunks. Put the chunks into a roasting pan and pop them into a 375 F oven for about 90 minutes or so, until the hard pulp is fork-tender and the color has darkened a shade. Don't add water to the roasting pan - Hubbard squash is notoriously "wet" despite its brick-like appearance, and if there's water in the roasting pan the squash will be less likely to evaporate out some of the water in the pulp.

When the cooking is done, you can serve the chunks right out of the pan - scrape the pulp out of the inedible shell as you eat. Or, allow the squash to cool enough to handle comfortably and pare the skin and rind from the flesh with a sharp knife and freeze the pulpy chunks for later.

You can also steam Hubbard squash, but I don't like that method so much because of how much water the stuff absorbs when it's over steam.


21 comments:

Corinne said...

How very interesting, I shall have to look for some of this!

Bonnie said...

Which farms do you go to? Thinking of takign a trip from CT to MA this weekend. Thanks!

Dave said...

Take 91 north to the Route 9 exit in Northampton; go right at the lights at the end of the exit ramp and go over the Coolidge Bridge towards Amherst. As you come into Hadley and South Hadly, you should start seeing roadside stands selling pumpkins, cabbage, potatoes, and squash. look for the small farm stands that are set up on people's front yards - those are the small truck gardens that sell pumpkins and Hubbard squash for a low "each" price rather than by the pound. In 2007, I was buying Hubbard squash for $2 each; last year at the time I wrote that blog entry, they were $3. I was up that way earlier this year and never got to the same places I usually hit because I was looking for potatoes instead and found a couple of stands with good deals on spuds on Rte 47. Good luck!

Bonnie said...

Thanks so much! I feel a road trip coming on for sure this weekend :)

themanicgardener said...

I am growing these for the first time this year, and started getting nervous when one exceeded six inches in length. I see now that the fun has barely begun. Thanks for this guidance!
--Kate

themanicgardener said...

I am growing one of these for the first time, and got nervous when one exceeded six inches in length. I see now that the fun has just begun. Thanks for providing some guidance! I'll sharpen my cleaver.
--Kate

Teresa said...

I was really surprised to see these in my local co-op last week, it was labeled as a misc. autumn squash.

They are delicious, much more depth of flavor than the more common butternuts, acorns or spaghetti varieties.

KiraC said...

Thanks for this. A friend just gave me one of these and I couldn't fathom how to cook it. I didn't have a meat cleaver, so just dropped it on our kitchen floor. Voila! Perfectly smashed into feasible sizes. My whole house is now filled with the yummy aroma of my roasted squash. :)

Dave said...

KiraC - I hope you enjoyed your Blue Hubbard as much as we do ours. They're my favorite variety of winter squash.

Tamara said...

We're growing this for the first time this year! Had amazing successes with it thus far. We're going vertical with ours since we don't have that much room!
Now I just can't wait to eat it!
Do you know how to prepare one that isn't quite ripe? We had one fall off the vine before it was ripe.

Dave said...

Tamara, I'm sorry I don't have any idea what to do with an under-ripe squash.

but if you're growing your squash vertically, you should remember that blue hubbards get HUGE and the stems might not be able to support the fruit. you might want to make some slings out of old pantyhose to cradle the growing squashes as they get bigger, so no more of them fall off.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post! Just got a large one of these with my local CSA and was googling what to do with it! This was very helpful!

Todd said...

Dave, Sounds like you need to make a visit to our farmstand, we grow 30 different kinds of Winter Squash! ;)

Dave said...

Where's your stand located, Todd?

Susan Rose said...

Thanks for the info and warnings. I don't have a sturdy meat cleaver (my enemies' heads are still intact), so I may take KiraC's advice and drop an eight pound Hubbard on my kitchen floor.

Amber DeGrace said...

So I have a hubbard on my counter and was doing a search on roasting it. Came across your post. LOVE IT. Totally puts me in the mind of Conan, which is always a welcome diversion in the late morning. Thanks!

Nancy said...

My husband and I have been growing these big, blue beauties for several years now. Other than the work of cutting it up, I love this squash! I use it to make all of my "pumpkin" pies, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pancakes and ......!

Clarissa said...

Hi -- I cooked one of these for the first time last night. Just as you say I hacked it open... I served it mashed with butter and it was lacking... Any recipes? How do you know when one of these is ripe?
I bought it at farmer's market and it looked beautiful, but the taste was not nearly as good as butternut.

Yourjunkissofat said...

Sorry to hear people are not eating Hubbards as much as in the past. They should be good this year as it has been so dry. It concentrates the flavor. I use an old chefs knife and a hammer to split mine. Some brown sugar and butter and it's a real treat. Thanks for your post. M Field, Michigan

Frenchie said...

Hubbard Squash is delicious but can be rather daunting to manage due to size.
Over the years, I have tried various methods of breaking this often gigantic squash into pieces. When I was a kid, I can recall my mother standing at the top of the cellar stairs and dropping the squash down to the cellar floor :-). What has worked really great for me is to put the squash into clean, doubled-up kitchen garbage bags, take it to the garage (or sidewalk, if you have no garage!) and drop it forcefully a couple of times. Then I take the pieces out, scoop out the seeds and stringy parts from each piece, and roast!
As I type, my oven is filled with the huge Hubbard that I just broke up using this method...Yay!

Granfling said...

Thanks for all the tips!! I especially like the reference to the broadswords (I happen to have 2 of them in my basement for Scottish Dance!!) I bought my Blue Hubbard squash because I've never seen one before and wanted to see what they were like. I'm going to make it for Thanksgiving :-)