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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.)

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42 Comments

  1. This is the first year I have tried to grow squash, other then acorn, now I have butternut, and blue hubbard, and don’t know what to look for or when to harvest them. I hope someone will give me a hint!!! Thanks so much. I live in N.E. Nevada
    Jim

  2. Butternut and Blue Hubbard are winter squashes. Harvest winter squash when the shell or skin is hard enough that you cannot dent it with your fingernail. All of your winter squash should be harvested as soon as the first light frost comes and kills the vines. Don’t leave winter squash in the garden after a light frost; the next frost will shorten it’s storage life. Harvested winter squash should “cure” in the sun for 10 to 14 days. If a frost threatens, cover the squash. Curing winter squash will sweeten the flesh while toughening the skin for storage. Out of the garden, store winter squash in a cool, well-ventilated place. You can wipe the skin with a weak bleach solution to help prevent rot.

  3. Hi this is Jim again, and I wanted to update you on the squash. The temp. went from the 50’s to 19, and is now snowing out. I covered the garden with a tarp the first night, but the next morning I went to check, and it looked as if they froze on the top part that was touching the tarp. So I took all the squash off the vine, blue hubbard, and butternut. I think alot of the butternut is O.K. as they have turned tan, or well on their way to turning tan, but the hubbard was still green, they are all 7-12 pounds, but none the less still green. I cleaned them all, wrapped them in news paper, and put them in our back bedroom. Does that sound alright, or do I need to unwrap them, and set them out, but I cannot set them outside, because they will freeze. Will they ripen like this, or am I fighting a loosing battle?
    Thanks
    Jim

  4. To tell if winter squash is ready for use rap on it with your knuckles. If the squash is hard, it should be ready. (If winter squash dents to the pressure of your thumb nail, it’s not ready and the growing season came up short this year.) You can always use the taste test: choose a squash for the kitchen and prepare a simple dish to test the flavor. All in all, it sounds like you got the crop in on time. (When you cover winter crops with cloth, be sure to set up a temporary frame so that the cloth does not touch the crop and act as a wick to deliver the freeze to the crop.) You can leave the just harvested squash in the back bedroom for a week or so to cure; just open the blinds so that the light hits the squash. But curing winter squash is not an absolute necessity–it’s more of a long-standing tradition. Some studies say winter squash does not need to be cured, but stored in a dry spot where temperatures range in the 40s and 50s. So if your back bedroom is warmer, move the squash to a cooler location until you are ready to use them. If the squash do not touch, you don’t need to keep them wrapped in paper. Allow the air to circulate freely around the squash. As for next year, you might want to start your squash indoors next spring–4 to 5 weeks before the last expected frost. Three weeks after the last frost in spring, set the transplants into the garden. You will have gained a month on the season, and hopefully won’t come up short on growing time next year. Winter squash can take from 60 to 110 days to reach harvest.

  5. This is Jim again, I took your advise, and cut one of the hubbards in squares, and cooked it, well about a third of it ( they are soooo!!!! big) and it without a doubt the best tasting squash I have ever tasted, it is so full of flavor, and nutty, and pretty to look at with that fresh looking pink flesh, it is now my, and my wife’s favorite. And my 1 1/2 year old grand son just loves it to death, he ate almost a whole piece by himself. I thank you for your tips, and all your help, you just made the day for me, and I will not be affraid to grow any type of squash from now on. I do recomend the blue hubbard to anyone that has the space to grow one, but just remember blue hubbards are BIG!!! to big for just one or two people, unless you can eat alot of squash. I guess my last question is how do I store the sqash that I have already cut? can I just freeze it, of do I have to blanch it? any Ideas?
    Thanks
    Jim

  6. You can can or freeze winter squash, pumpkin, banana, hubbard, and butternut squashes.
    ///////Canning: Cut through the rind and cut the flesh into strips with the rind still attached; scrape away all of the seeds and fibrous material. Place the cleaned rind-flesh-strips in a steamer over boiling water or boil in small amount of water until the flesh is soft. Scrape the flesh from the rind and press through a colander or mash. Put the flesh into a pan and bring to boiling, stirring. Pack hot into jars to within half an inch from the top of the jar. Add a half teaspoon of salt to pint jars; add 1 teaspoon of salt to quarts. Seal. Use a good reference book on canning to make sure you are canning safely. There can be health risks if you get it wrong.
    ////////Freezing: Wash the squash then cut it open and remove the seed and fibrous material. Cut into strips or chunks and boil in a small amount of water until the flesh is soft. Scrape the flesh from the rind and mash (or puree); cool the flesh. Pack in ridgid freezer containers to freeze; allow room a the top of the container for the squash to expand when it freezes. Label and freeze immediately.

  7. I’m interested to know that a Buttercup/Blue Hubbard cross produces Baby Hubbard. I grew only these two maximas last year and saved seeds from both. I planted some of each this year, as well as original seeds of the two varieties. Some plants from seeds last year’s Hubbard fruits are indeed producing small Hubbards. There is a very different squash coming from some seeds from last year’s Buttercups. These resemble Buttercup, but much larger with lighter skin and no button. Flavor and texture remain to be tested this fall.

    I have read elsewhere that Baby Blue is not as good flavored as the larger variety. If so, this is surprising, considering Buttercup’s excellence. I’m hoping that the larger Buttercup cross proves better, but one would think that if is, we’d see the cross on the market. Perhaps it is. Do you know?

    • The Baby Blue Hubbard squash is a cross between the Blue Hubbard and the Bush Buttercup. That cross was first done at the University of New Hampshire in 1953. Bush Buttercup is a full-sized buttercup squash. I have seen the flavor of the Baby Blue described as excellent and as less than excellent.

    • Hi, Just saw you comment
      .Squashes will cross. To get a true-to-form squash the following year, you need to cover the unopened flowers with a paper bag, and tie them. When the flowers open, look inside and you should be able to tell male vs. female flower. Insert the male flower into the female flower to pollinate, then put the bag back over the female flower. tie. Once the flower falls off (the fruit will be forming) you can remove the bag. Tie some wool around the stem so in the fall you will know which squashes have been hand pollinated, and will reproduce the following year, just as good as the previous year. Good luck! There are some excellent seed saving books out there. Easiest to save are beans, tomatoes and peas. the rest need a bit more attention.

      • Thanks all, I didn’t realize that winter squashes were so easily crossed… I’ve got a bunch of baby blue hubs and butterkins growing together this year; fingers crossed their saved seeds make for something just as tasty and fine next year (though now I’m worried the back compost volunteer pumpkin of uncertain quality and origin adds a wild card to the mix)!
        Would love to grow full hubbards some day, but they’re just so much squash to commit to all at once – beasts for feasts they be.

  8. Also, I have read elsewhere that winter squash should be cured at 85 degrees and stored at 55, and that temps below 50 will shorten shelf life. One source says that leaving them on the vine below 50 will shorten shelf life.

    • Yes, your research matches recommendations by winter squash growers at the University of Illinois: cure winter squash at 80-85F for 10 days and store at 50-55F. Remove winter squash from the garden before the first hard freeze or you risk losing your crop.

      • Clarification on the Buttercup x Hubbard cross. Last year, the only maximas I planted were vining Buttercups and Blue Hubbards, I planted the crosses this year, If the mother fruit was Hubbard, the result produced small Hubbards. If the mother was Buttercup, what I got was huge (at least double normal sized), paler-colored Buttercup-shaped squash, with no button, but rather a flattened Hubbard type end.

        recall that Bush Buttercup has been described as not as good flavored as the vining type, so I’m hoping the vine-crossed little Hubbards will be better than standard Baby Hubbard. Apparently, the father controls the size. I wonder which more influences the flavor.

        This year I’m growing a third maxima type, Lower Salmon River, along with the other original varieties and their crossed versions. Complicates matters, but planting the various results should be interesting. Next time I will do controlled crosses. I’m interested in other gardeners’ crossing experiments.

          • One of my uncrossed Blue Hubbards is now 32 lbs, beautiful ribbed football shape. It is still on the vine, but stopped growing at least a couple of weeks ago. . I’m tempted to take it to the fair in a week, but that would mean cutting it from the vine. The rind is hard, and the stem is mostly corked, but the plant is very alive and the stem shows some remaining green streaks. There are still several weeks until frost is likely. I sure would hate to compromise its eating or keeping quality by shortening its time maturing and curing on the vine.

          • Your Blue Hubbard sounds mature and ready for picking–if the skin is dull and dry instead of shiny and smooth and if the rind cannot be punctured by your thumbnail then the squash is ready for harvest. Perhaps you can take it to the fair and then eat it–it will do some curing while it is hosting the Blue Ribbon!

    • Yes. Peel the squash and cut it into chunks–whatever size you like. Spread the pieces on a baking sheet–in a single layer–and place in the freezer. When completely frozen, transfer the frozen pieces to a freezer-safe container with 1/2-inch headspace to allow for food expansion. You can roast the frozen chunks–without thawing them first–this winter or add them directly to stews. You can also thaw them before using.

    • Blue Hubbard is a “winter squash.” Winter squashes are grown just like summer squashes only their skins thicken and are allowed to cure before they are prepared and cooked. Generally, you can plant winter squashes in Florida between January (in the south) and February (in the north).

  9. Today, June 27th, we cracked the last Blue Hubbard we had from last year. Because of our cold climate here in Finland, 500 km north of Helsinki, we took it inside at the end of september and it has been stored at a temperature of 15 – 18 degrees Celcius. Today the weight of it was 11,3 kg, and it was in perfect condition. It will now be baked in the oven so that we can use its flesh further on in pumpkin pies , as soup base etc.
    The year before we had five Hubbards from two plants and the average weight was approx. 10 kg.

  10. I live in Virginia mad temp in the 90’s. I picked two mature blue Hubbard squash. Can I store them in the frig for a couple of weeks before cooking?

    • Winter squash that is stored for just a week or two does not need to be cured; keep it in the refrigerator at 50º to 55º F with relative humidity of 60 to 70 percent.

      • I ate a delicious blue Hubbard last fall and dumped the seeds into my garden in Phoenix Arizona. . Much to my surprise and delight the seeds germinated and vines started to spread. Now it is June with 100 plus degree days and the vines are continuing to grow and I see at least 15 small hubbards ranging in color from blue to orange . Some have been on the vine now for 2 months and I am going to use your test on the skin . I will let you know how they taste and if they continue through the fall.

        • If the leaves or skin of the fruit get sunburn you may want to place a frame over the area and drape shade cloth directly over the planting area; that will shield the leaves and squash from midday sun; they will still get morning and late afternoon sun.

  11. I planted several seeds from a blue hubbard squash. One plant has a squash that looks like a blue hubbard squash BUT the others plants ( seeds were from the same squash) all have very large smooth skinned yellow/orangeish skin. How did that happen? Will they still taste like a blue hubbard????

    • Blue Hubbard squash is open-pollinated, meaning seeds save from a Blue Hubbard should grow true. Since they didn’t, cross-pollination must have occurred last season or this.

  12. Hi!
    I live in Albuquerque. First time planter of Blue Hubbard. Thanks fir all of the care suggestions. We’re still in growing season here.
    Two questions about the BH seeds: 1. can they be dried and prepared like other squash seeds as a condiment? 2. Can they be dried and used to sow for next year’s garden?

  13. This is my first time growing this squash. I didn’t realize how big they got, and one It’s very light green broke off the vine. It’s very light green and weighs a little over 7 pounds. What should I do with it? Should I try and prepare it to eat or do you think it isn’t ripe enough?

  14. I cut into my hubbard squash to roast it and found half of the flesh was green and the other half nice orange.
    Should I only scoop out the oragne flesh or is the green flesh edible also. It certainly will make for a strange color puree

  15. To Jim, who grows winter squash and was wondering how to preserve them easily. I have collected various types of squash in the late fall and left them in my storage room to season where the temperature hovers between 40 and 65° as I live in the deep South. I’ll bring them in one or two at a time and cut them open to remove the seeds, then roast in the oven at 400° for an hour or so. When they’re cool, I scoop out the pulp (easy to do!) and freeze it in pint and quart size freezer bags. The 1-cup size (1-lb) will make a wonderful and healthy pie, even crustless. Other favorites include pumpkin bread and squash soup. I’ve tried several varieties and all work beautifully. The frozen flesh is pre-cooked so completely edible when it thaws. There are other recipes which I have not tried, but I have done this for the last 20 years with great success. My family has quit laughing at me!😂

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