One type of winter squash, a hubbard squash has many names such as "green pumpkin" or "buttercup." Its origins are unknown, but it can currently be found in most countries worldwide, as it can grow about anywhere with sunlight and a few months of warm weather. Most major supermarkets sell the squash during the winter months, but it is often sold in pieces as an entire squash can be quite large. Due to it's hard outer shell, this winter squash stores well, for up to six months, and can be used in a variety of cooking and baking recipes.
The hubbard squash is said to have a mysterious origin, possibly named after a Mrs. Elizabeth Hubbard, who lived in the 1840s and gave seeds of the squash to friends, thus increasing its popularity. It is not known exactly where the hubbard was first grown, but most winter squash varieties are known to be New World foods, meaning they originated in the Americas. It can now be grown almost anywhere with enough sunlight, water, and warm weather; the seed is known to be quite resilient and grows best if planted during the spring to allowed to grow all summer.
A relatively recent addition to hubbard squash varieties is the golden hubbard; unfortunately, manipulating nature here has not produced the best results. While the golden hubbard squash is pretty, some note it has a bitter aftertaste instead of the sweet taste of the original hubbard. Many people suggest sticking with the original hubbard for best cooking results.
Appearance and Taste
The outside shell of this type of squash should be hard and firm, and its color may range from dark green to gray or blue in color; some people refer to the squash as green or blue hubbard squash because of the differences in the color of the shells. The shell is generally not consumed, but the orange, sweet-tasting flesh underneath can be eaten. This particular variety of winter squash is often tear-shaped, and can grow quite large, with some reaching 50 pounds (22.68 kg) in weight. Most hubbards of this size cannot be found in supermarkets, but instead the squash is usually sold in pieces.
Cooking and Baking
The hubbard is consistently sweet, and can be substituted for virtually any other winter squash, making it ideal for cooking and baking. The squash can be peeled and boiled, roasted, steamed, or sauteed; it can be served as a side dish, used as a soup base, or used for pumpkin pie filling. Cooking a hubbard squash is simple: the squash can be cut in half, the seeds scooped out, and the squash cooked flesh side down in an oven. Alternately, the squash can be peeled, cubed, and steamed, but peeling winter squash can take some work, so baking is usually the easier method.
Very frequently, hubbard squashes are used in place of pumpkin for pumpkin pie because of their relative cheapness and similar flavor; the flesh of a hubbard tends to be consistently more dense than the flesh of most pumpkins, with the exception of the sugar pumpkin. In addition to pumpkin pie, winter squash can be pureed to make a creamy soup or an ideal baby food as the cooked hubbard is very sweet and scarcely needs embellishment. Another popular idea is to produce a mashed squash or winter squash casserole topped with candied nuts; also, slices of hubbard can be topped with a bit of brown sugar and a sprinkling of nutmeg or pumpkin pie spices for a sweet treat. For the more creative type, it is possible to make hubbard squash raviolis, served with a cream sauce.
Nutritional Value and Storage
Hubbards are very nutritious when they are prepared in a healthy way; the squash has virtually no fat and is extremely low in sodium. A cup of this sweet treat cubed, without extra sugar, holds about 120 calories and has plenty of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. It is a great diet food since it needs very little embellishment, and with a nice amount of dietary fiber, proves very filling.
This winter squash can be stored for up to six months, if it is stored properly; the best storage conditions include temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 13 degrees Celsius) and approximately 70 degrees relative humidity. Removing the stem of the squash may also help prevent it from rotting. Storing hubbards and apples separately may also prove helpful as gases released by apples may affect the skin of the squash.