'Boston Marrow' Winter Squash

Food Storage, Nutrition, Winter Abundance, Winter Squash -

'Boston Marrow' Winter Squash

Cucurbita maxima

I've put my shoes on this squash to give me some size perspective. It's ready for kindergarten today, if that tells you anything. But really, this heirloom squash from New England is impressive in more ways than size. According to the Slow Food Ark of Taste, it has a documented history in North America of over 200 years. Check it out:

https://www.slowfoodusa.org/ark-item/boston-marrow-squash .

This variety was extremely productive for me. I direct-sowed them May 25th and they were in the ground 110 days to mid-October. I harvested them just before a predicted frost. They are touted as a good large squash for short seasons. They could definitely be grown in an even shorter season; most of mine matured by 85 days. I planted four 18” mounds, thinning each mound to one plant each. I planted them at about 6' between the mounds, but they could easily use double or triple that. Even though mine were closer than ideal, the vines and leaves were vigorous, with leaves measuring 2' across. In the end, I yielded 12 squash from those four plants, and a couple that set late and didn't mature. I'd pull these later fruits off the vines next year to keep the plants energy going toward those which will mature. These immature squash make great cow or chicken treats. I amended the mounds I planted with compost and cottonseed meal, and fertigated them with fish emulsion oil every other week.

These are big squash, weighing between 20-40 lbs.!

They have large seed cavities though, the flesh only averages 2 ½ to 3 inches thick. The flesh is some of the deepest orange I have ever seen in a squash. This deep color seems to correlate with both flavor and nutrient density. The skin is knobby and bright orange.

Great keepers, these lasted 5+ months!

We kept ours in the living room and they made a great obstacle course for our kitten. Whether or not kitten leapfrogging tends toward their long-term storage, I'll allow it. It was pretty cute and kept him from climbing the curtains all winter long. 

Now, let's talk the practicalities of dealing with squash this large in the kitchen. It takes me a solid three hours to completely process these if I do it all at once. Because the flesh is not very thick, I start by cutting a little box “window” out of the middle, and use that as an entrance for my knife to cut other small squares. I use a French carbon steel knife by K Sabatier. It's carbon as opposed to stainless, and therefore takes a sharper edge, though it requires sharpening before every use. As soon as you are putting a lot of force behind a dull knife to cut through thick skinned winter squashes, you're in risky business.

I turn most of the squash into puree through baking/steaming (see recipe below). I freeze some of this in jars, keep some of it in the fridge for pies later in the week (it keeps in the fridge at most one week), and use some that day for soup or as baked squash. You could also pressure can the puree, but expect the nutrient content to decease in the process. Uncooked portions of the squash can be kept in the fridge for as long as two weeks, but the quality decreases as it dries out. I leave the portion I'm keeping fresh as whole as possible to slow drying out. You could also put it in sealed containers to keep it more fresh.