The Boston Marrow Squash could not sound more tempting and delectable. This lovely, mid-size winter squash has a custard-like, buttery flavor with almost 200 years of documented history, though possibly of prehistoric origin. It reaches maturity in 90 to 100 days and has striking, reddish orange skin and an average weight of 10 to 20 pounds, though it can be larger in optimal growing conditions.
The Boston Marrow Squash originated in the upstate New York area and its legend as a Native American vegetable gifted to European-descended gardeners links it to traditional American history. The seeds were later passed on to Salem, Massachusetts in 1831, where the Boston (or “Autumnal”) Marrow Squash was then popularized by Mr. J. M. Ives. It is speculated to be originally of Chilean origin (linked to the Valparaiso squash or C. mammeata) but this is undocumented. It was primarily used in New England as a pie squash and is prized for its rich orange flesh with a fine texture. Its water content gives it a fresh mouthfeel, and it was described in 1858 as having a skin as thin as the inner envelope of an egg. Due to its success in cool and short-season growing regions and other easy-to-grow qualities, its production has spread throughout the United States, from Massachusetts to Washington state and from California to Florida. It is a good storage crop, for if kept in a cool and dry place it will last until the following spring.
The Boston Marrow Squash is on the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, and is one of the foods featured in the Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) Grow-out project taking place in Rhode Island this year. If you’d like to grow this historic squash yourself, seeds are available at Seed Savers Exchange.