Boston Marrow: Please Don't Save the Neck


| 3/13/2011 12:08:00 PM


Tags: Boston Marrow, Autumnal Marrow, Hubbard Squash, J. H. Gregory, maxima squash, Ark of Taste, Slow Food Ark of Taste, seed selecting, Lawrence Davis-Hollander,

A photo of Lawrence Davis-HollanderLast week a farmer friend of mine handed me a large squash that I was to use for testing some recipes. This was supposed to be Boston Marrow, an old heirloom squash well known and popular in and around Boston and elsewhere in the Northeast beginning in the second quarter of the 19th century. It commonly available in seed catalogs to the second half of the 20th century. It  is of the Hubbard group, large, orange or reddish orange with faint pale orange stripes extending from the stem end, down to the small protruding blossom scar. It can weigh from 15 pounds on up, easily reaching 30. It became  a classic New England squash, like blue Hubbard, although the species, maxima, originates in South America.

An incorrect necky Boston Marrow currently offered by some seed companies 
Boston Marrow from 2010 harvest with an errant neck 

A story relates this variety came from Indians who visited Buffalo, quite possibly the Seneca or Tuscarora, and in 1831 the seed was sent to a Mr. John Ives of North Salem, Massachusettes, from a friend in Northampton, Massachusettes. According to Ives, in the Spring of 1833 “I distributed seeds to many members of the Mass.. Horticultural Society, they never having seen it previously. At the annual exhibit of this Society at Faneuil Hall, September 1834, I exhibited  a specimen, merely marked "New Squash."

Engraving of Autumnal or Boston Marrow  1867 showing correct type 
Engraving of Autumnal or Boston Marrow from the
19th century showing original form
 

The next month he forwarded the name Autumnal Marrow along with a wood cut to various farm and garden publications. 

According to James J. H. Gregory the famous seedsman from who specialized in squash, founder of the Marblehead Seed Company, and introducer of Hubbard squash, Boston Marrow was originally a small squash  weighing 5 or 6 pounds, fine grained and dry, with an excellent flavor.




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