Hubbard squash is a medium to large sized winter squash with a hard, bumpy skin and rich, sweet flavor, that can be used in a variety of dishes, like soups, stews, casseroles, and curries. Different varieties have different colored skins, ranging from dark green and pale blue to light orange.
What Is Hubbard Squash?
Hubbard squash is a large winter squash, that can grow any where from 15 to 50 pounds, although the larger ones are often sold in sections to make it easier for consumers to handle and prepare. It's a variety of Cucurbita maxima, which also includes banana squash, buttercup squash and Cinderella pumpkins. It originated in the Caribbean islands, and was first brought to North America in the 19th century. The name Hubbard comes from one of the earliest gardeners to grow it in Massachusetts.
Hubbard squash are notable for their bumpy skin, and its variety of skin colors. Its yellow-orange flesh is dry and grainy and its flavor is buttery and sweet. They come in a variety of shapes, including teardrop-shaped, pointed at both ends, or round and squat.
One interesting characteristic of Hubbard squash is that they can be stored for 5 months or more, provided they're kept somewhere cool and dry. Their flavor will not deteriorate during that time but instead, continue to develop, as the starches slowly turn to sugar. A Hubbard squash that would be mealy or starchy in October could have a creamier texture and sweeter flavor if you save it until March.
How to Cook With Hubbard Squash
To begin with, Hubbard squash is large, and the shell is quite hard, which means cutting it requires a large knife and a lot of force. This is why many stores sell it in pre-cut sections.
One trick for cracking open a whole Hubbard squash is to put it in a bag and drop it from shoulder height onto a cement patio or porch. The impact should at least crack it, and you can then use the crack as a place to insert your knife. Or, it might break it all the way open, in which case you can scoop out the pulp and seeds and then continue cutting into smaller pieces. It's not pretty, but it works.
The best ways to cook Hubbard squash including simmering, steaming, and roasting. Typical uses include pureeing to make it into soup, as a pie filling, or as a side dish. You can also mix thin slices of the cooked squash into casseroles, salads, rice, and pasta dishes, or use it as a pizza topping.
To roast a Hubbard squash, open it up either using a knife, the cement patio, or both, and scoop out the stringy pulp and seeds. Then slice it into 1-inch sections, brush the flesh with olive oil or melted butter, and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Hubbard squash does well with the addition of a bit of brown sugar, maple syrup, or molasses, as well as spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, or even a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Roast on a rimmed sheet pan in a 400 F oven for 25 to 30 minutes. When a sharp knife easily pierces the shell, it's done. You can add a bit of water to the pan, since Hubbard squash can be a bit on the dry side.
What Does It Taste Like?
Hubbard squash has a rich and buttery flavor, like a sweet pumpkin, with a smooth, dry, starchy texture. The blue varieties are typically drier than the orange or green ones.
Hubbard Squash Recipes
Here are a few recipes specifically written for butternut squash in which you can substitute Hubbard squash. You can substitute Hubbard squash for practically any recipe that calls for winter squash, including acorn, kabocha, and banana squash.
Where to Buy Hubbard Squash
Hubbard squash can be found at farmers' markets and supermarket produce departments during the autumn and winter months. The stem should be dry, intact, and firm, and avoid squash with any cracks, cuts, or soft or discolored spots. It should feel heavy for its size.
A whole Hubbard squash will keep for up to 5 months when stored in a cool place away from sunlight. The ideal temperature for storing a whole Hubbard squash is around 50 F, with around 60 percent humidity. Once it's sliced, it will keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
There are a few main types of Hubbard squash, the so-called "true" Hubbard, which has a green skin; the orange Hubbard, sometimes known as golden; and the blue Hubbard. A subvariant of the blue Hubbard, called the baby blue, is smaller and sweeter than the ordinary blue version.