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Peeling Butternut Squash

  • r

Anyone have any tips for easy peeling of butternut squash?

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  1. c
    Carolyn Tillie

    A really sharp knife. Don't even bother with a peeler. Resign yourself to the fact that you are going to lose some flesh (the squash's, not yours, I hope!)

    4 Replies
    1. re: Carolyn Tillie

      Thnx for the response! You've confirmed all of my fears!

      1. re: Ron

        I make a butternut squash soup (from Jane & Michael Stern's Real American Food) for which you HAVE to peel, seed and chop the squash before cooking it. It is NOT hard contrary to what some have implied here. My completely tried-and-true method:

        With a big heavy knife, slice off the very top and bottom of the squash so it'll stand up by itself. Now peel it (downwards is easier) using a really good potato peeler (or a knife if you're antipeelers). I have an OXO good grips that is simply great and you lose no flesh (either your own or the squash's). Now pick up the big heavy knife again and slice downwards to cut the squash in quarters. Scoop out the seeds with an ordinary metal dessert spoon. Now slice the quarters downwards and across to cut in cubes.

        1. re: tamara
          Olympia Jane

          Ditto the OXO Good Grips vegetable peeler comment. That little tool could probably peel laminate off of a table. I treat the peeler with the respect it deserves, having slipped once or twice and peeled myself, but I wouldn't use any other peeler, this one works so much better than any other peeler I have ever used! I thought about posting something about trying the OXO peeler on butternut squash, but since I substitute thin skinned delicata squash whenever butternut is called for, I hadn't tried it myself, so didn't know for SURE if it would work.

          1. re: tamara

            Like you, I lop off the top and bottom and then use a Y peeler which does a fine job to peel the squash. If cubing, I like to then cut off the round head from the solid body so I can work on each piece differently. The solid cylindrical body is easy to plank and cube. I then deal with with round head by slicing in half, deseeding and then planking and cubing.

      2. Only peel the neck. It's a big, solid, regularly shaped chunk of squash and has virtually no seeds, which makes the peeling job not so bad. Be sure to use a very sharp veggie peeler, or, if your knife skills are good (mine aren't up to this), you can cut off the stem end, stand the neck on the other, wider, end, and take off vertical slices of peel with your chef's knife. Just take the round bottom part with the seeds in it, split it in half, scoop out seeds, and cook it skin-on -- the flesh is relatively thin and not worth the trouble of peeling.

        You can also sometimes find "neck pumpkins" in the greenmarkets, which are like a cross between a butternut squash and a giraffe -- the solid, seedless neck is three times as long as a regular butternut's.

        1. Peeling raw winter squash strikes me as being an activity akin to the craft of stonemasonry. I just whack them in half, remove seeds and bake them. After that, you can scoop out and mash the flesh or serve the pieces with the skin on.

          For Danish (aka "acorn") squash, I like to cut in half, seed, then cut each half crosswise into 3 or 4 half-rings, then steam them. This system of cutting them up makes an attractive asset out of the scalloped edge, and you can stretch one squash to feed 3 or 4 people.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sharuf

            But I really like them cubed and roasted

          2. Inspired by you, Rob, I bought a nice fat butternut squash to go with supper tonight. I cut it the long way, scooped out the seeds and put it cut-side down on foil in a 400 degree oven for a bit over an hour. When I took it out the peel was butterscotch brown and came off just like cellophane. I mashed it with cream and some butter and spices. But the point is, it peeled like a scalded tomato. Very nifty. Thanks.

            1. Get a sharp chefs knive. Cut the squash in half length wise and de-seed. Slice this across into about 2" thick slices. Place these on their side on the cutting board (the squash will be resting on the flesh side). Now cut the skin off in small portions, working your way around the circumference of the squash, similar to cutting the rind off of a piece of chesse.

              1. Roasting is a wonderful mothod if you want roasted butternut squash. The skin peels off easily and the whole thing tastes like pure, undiluted autumn. However if you want diced, steamed, or sauteed butternut squash, you need to peel it first. A good peeler works just fine. Use one that you pull towards you (Shaped like a "T" insted if an "l", if this makes sense) and cut the squash where the long part starts to form the round part. Peel the two different sides and do what you want with it. It all depends what you want to cook

                1. Ron,
                  I have not read all of the responses to your request. Just don't have the time. I've been doing butternut for many years. Microwave it. Cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and rough stuff. Put the halves cut side down on some waxed paper in the wave and do at full power for 12 to 20 minutes. The squash will be soft when pressed from the outside. Let it cool and scoop it out with a spoon. Mix in some brown sugar and buter. YUMMMMMMMMMMMM !

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Joe Fedorka

                    Wow, Joe, I just printed your directions out!!! I thought the only way to peel butternut was to buy it in a bag!! Thank you!!(so, yeah, I AM lazy...)

                    1. re: Joe Fedorka

                      I do a version of Joe's method, but only use the microwave to get the flesh soft enough to peel, then I proceed with regular roasting. In my microwave, it takes maybe 2 minutes to soften enough to proceed with peeling with an Oxo or a chef's knife.

                    2. t
                      tom philpott

                      Sounds like you've gotten some great suggestions for peeling (and not peeling) butternut squash. Here's another idea. In the current issue of Cook's Illustrated, there's a simple, elagant recipe for turning a medium-sized butternut squash (and little else) into an amazing soup for four.
                      In a pan big enough to fit a fold-out steamer, saute a couple of shallots in butter. Meanwhile, halve the squash and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits from the flesh. Don't throw these out--instead, throw them in with the shallot, and saute until the squash bits are the "color of saffron." Now add four cups of water to the pot with a generous pinch of salt, bring to a boil scraping the bottom of the pan, drop in the steamer, and steam the squash halves, cut side down, in the simmering, covered pot. This will take 30 or so minutes. What you've created is a wonderful, rich squash stock. When the halves are soft, remove them let them cool a bit, and scoop the flesh into a blender. Blend in batches, using the strained squash essence as the liquid. Bring the puree back to rinsed-out pot, gently reheat, and add a half cup of cream, whole milk, half-and-half, or creme fraiche. Season with salt and, if you like white pepper. (Black pepper would interfere with the amazing color.)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tom philpott

                        I know this is a 10 yr old post -- but, if you have to peel squash and can't roast before, it has to be used raw, cut it cross-wise so you get squash rings about 2-3" tall. Cut off the outside with as little of the flesh as possible -- it's like taking a circle and making it a hexagon, or whatever has 12 sides. I forget my geometry. Then, cut in half and use a spoon to get out seeds. Just chopping, so there's less chance of cutting yourself. That's my method. Cheers!

                      2. I've used a paring knife in the past but over thanksgiving I made several dishes with butternut squash and I used a Y peeler and it worked great.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: meadandale

                          I second the Y peeler. I've never had a hard time with butternut squash and the Y peeler.

                        2. Depending on how you plan to use the squash, consider roasting it whole. I'm too lazy to peel, so I put the entire thing in the oven (375-400 should work) for about 1 hour uncovered. No need to pierce or cut it. Once it cools, slice, and scoop right out of the skin. This will produce a mushy consistency, which is perfect for soup or mashed squash, but obviously isn't the way to go if you want cubes or slices.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: topbanana

                            Consider roasting it cubed up. The caramelization that occurs on all sides makes the squash taste like candy. Worth the effort to peel

                          2. I cut mine in half and roast for soup, so don't peel Here is a side question, though. How do you get that orange "glue" off of your hands? I literally had to scrub them several times with the rough side of a "scrubby" sponge. Anyone have any tricks?

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: mvi

                                It's why I only make the soup once a year. I just make a ton!

                            1. Ron,
                              Easiest way is to buy it peeled, but be careful of the quality - squash spoils quickly once peeled.
                              I've peeled a LOT of butternut squash over the years. Our church does a free feed on Christmas day, and I do the squash. Last year was over 200# of squash.
                              I use a peeler - mine says REX Zena - Swiss Made - Mod Int 11002. First, cut the ends off the squash, then peel from the center towards each end. You'll need short strokes working over the knob. Then halve it and scoop out the seeds. I steam it, so I cut it into fairly large chunks.
                              Then I mash it and add a bit of nutmeg. As for the 'orange claw' syndrome, wear nitrile gloves.
                              I still need a technique for acorn squash (I prefer the texture and flavor of acorn). Baking the halved & cleaned acorn is OK for small quantities (less than 10#) - cut side down on a baking sheet. I've tried cutting the acorn squash into sectors (following the valleys between the ridges), but it's a lot of work and the small sectors are very slippery and hard to hold while peeling. But the taste (mashed with a little butter, NO brown sugar) is wonderful. I still want to try dunking a squash (ends cut off) into boiling water for a couple of minutes & see if it can be peeled like a tomato.

                              1. Wow, a thread from 10 years ago.