Ark of Taste
Sugar Hubbard Squash
The Sugar Hubbard Squash, Cucurbita maxima, is a large, torpedo-shaped winter squash with a blue-grey skin and bright gold flesh. This variety was developed in the late 1940s as a cross between the Blue Hubbard and the Sweet Meat heirloom varieties by a collaboration between Whidbey Island farmer Edwin Sherman and Washington State University which further developed the seed stock and kept the strain in existence. The Sugar Hubbard inherited the best qualities of both: its flesh is moister than the traditional Blue Hubbard and it stores longer than the Sweet Meat. Seeds are planted in May, and vigorous 10-foot long vines produce 4-5 squash weighing about 20 pounds each. The squash are harvested by hand in October, and keep well in storage until the next year's planting.
The Sugar Hubbard Squash is naturally sweet and delicious when prepared as a puree or roasted. It can be added to everything from soups to bread to ice cream, and makes an excellent pie. It is very rich in nutrients: 1/2 cup provides 100% of the recommended daily intake of beta carotene, potassium, iron, zinc, protein, vitamin C, and many B-vitamins. Roasted squash seeds also make a tasty snack. Vincent Nattress, Chef and Owner of Cultivar Catering on Whidbey Island, Washington has this to say about the Sugar Hubbard Squash: "Having grown up in Coupeville, I remember eating Sugar Hubbard as a kid. Each winter, my mom would roast up big pieces in the oven with brown sugar on top. I guess I just took it for granted. It was only when I returned to Whidbey Island in 2009 that I came to see the beauty and importance of this massive squash. I had gotten used to Butternut Squash, and in California it reigns supreme. But in our cooler, maritime climate, Butternut just won’t ever get ripe; it retains its green-streaky veins and never gets sweet or flavorful. Hubbard is ideal for Western Washington and provides us with a very long lasting, very nutrient rich, very delicious fall and winter staple. In this climate, Sugar Hubbard simply blows the doors off of Butternut. Here, Sugar Hubbard is King." The Sugar Hubbard Squash is a local favorite on Whidbey Island, appearing every year in October at the Sherman Pioneer Farm produce stand, just in time for the blustery weather.
The Sugar Hubbard Squash is unique to the Pacific Northwest. It is grown primarily in the Puget Sound region of Washington state, and by home gardeners and farmers as far south as Oregon. Territorial Seed Company is the only commercial seed source, making this an endangered variety. Additionally, there is only one commercial farming operation that grows the Sugar Hubbard Squash, Sherman's Pioneer Farm, located on Whidbey Island. The Shermans are dedicated to continuing to produce the Sugar Hubbard Squash for the commercial market, and as long as the family farm is maintained, the crop will be grown in the Pacific Northwest. The strain is open pollinated, producing viable seeds which are true to cultivar. Third generation farmers Dale and Liz Sherman are committed to preserving the farm and passing it on to their children.