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Winter Squashes: Is it wrong to eat the skins?

It is common to see "white part only" for scallions or leeks as an ingredient for a recipe. I, however, try and get as much of the edible-allowed as I can push it: at least a third of the green part of that leek, the entire scallion.

Winter squashes are a whole other breed of veggies I'm not too aquainted with. I had them from time to time before but since I've been buying my produce from the green market, I really appreciate them now.

The quandary lies within the intersection of these 2 facts. I like winter squashes and I get stingy when it comes to food. Today I sliced up a sweet dumpling with the skin, stuck it on a baking pan, added a little water, wrapped it aluminum, and stuck it in the oven. Results were perfect. All the websites offering winter squash primers (including the one here, on Chowhound) explicitly say "inedible skins". Is it only because the skin is tough? (Because there are cooking methods that tenderize it.( Or is it because it's bad for you? Any varieties I just shouldn't?

Thanx for reading.

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  1. I've always eaten the skins on small squashes (like the mini pumpkins that are such a bargain after Halloween) because they are tender but discarded the thicker, tougher skins on larger squashes. If you have any recipes for the skins of bigger ones let me know.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pepper_mil

      pepper_mil,

      Absolutely, those cute little pumpkins and squashes have good, yummy skins. As for the larger squashes here's a simple recipe that I'll leave open-ended:

      Pre-heat oven to 350

      Grab your favorite squash; wash and dry

      Cut it in half and continue cutting, into big chunks (amount of chunks depends)

      Get out a baking pan that is big enough to place all the chunks in one layer.

      Place the chunks in the pan. The critical part when doing this is making sure the skin IS NOT facing you.

      Add a little water over the squash letting it settle at the bottom of the pan a cm or two deep and cover with foil

      Put in oven. I'll set the default bake time for 45 minutes, but it depends.

      Take it out, unwrap and let it cool.

      At this point, it's up to you. Dress it up with butter and herbs? Take it through a trip in the food processor? Either way, you should have a tender squash with edible skin at your disposal.

      I hope you enjoy this as I do.

      P.S. Sorry for the delay

    2. It may be depend on the squash. Butternut has a thin skin that can be removed with a vegetable pealer. Turban has a hard shell, even after baking. Japanese like to keep at least part of the skin on Kambocha. The skin has flavor, though the texture is different from the meat. I've seen (on PBS) Lydia B. do this with acorn - leave decorative strips of skin on roasted slices.

      1. the skin on winter squashes, like the skin on summer squashes & cucumbers, are actually edible when cooked-- they're just sometimes not so *digestible*-- depending on the type of squash. when i roast squash for use in soups, purees, & mashes, and scoop the flesh out for these uses, i don't worry about it if i get the occasional strip of skin in the bowl (i obviously scrub the skins clean before baking). the small amount of skin gets incorporated into the dish and i actually like the color contrast and textural interest. maybe that makes me crazy, though. thinner-skinned winter squashes like red kuri and kabocha are the better choices for this, you will get a little extra nutrition from the skins, just like baked potato skins. some of the tiny squash you get right before the frost can be grated up, skin and all, and baked plain or in gratin. delicious. butternut squash is top of my list for having an unpleasant, tough skin that i wouldn't eat.

        2 Replies
        1. re: soupkitten

          duh-- i mistyped the last sentence. i meant to say "***acorn*** squash is top of my list for having an unpleasant, tough skin. . ." -- not butternut. i'd eat the skin of butternut, which can be cooked until tender. sorry about that.

          1. re: soupkitten

            Was a bit surprised with your post until I got to your correction. Got a butternut squash to cut up and was wondering about leaving the skin on so googled this discussion. I'll leave the skin on and see what happens.

        2. On the 'white part only' for scallions or leeks, the whole thing is edible. Try braised leeks with vinaigrette, you use the whole thing and it is delicious.

          However 'the white part only' is usually to achieve a certain flavor or appearance in a dish. If you use the green part, it isn't likely to poison you or give you indigestion, the dish just isn't going to turn out as described.

          As for eating winter squash skins, they aren't nice to eat. I try to be frugal in the kitchen too, but that's a little too much frugality for me.

          1. If it's organically grown and/or well washed it's ok to eat the skin. I didn't use to, but do now.

            1. i never thought they were, but my friend informed me that you can eat the skins of delicata squash. we braised one for dinner, and ate it skin and all . . . yummy. it was five hours ago, i feel fine.

              (the delicatas are the small striped ones.)

              2 Replies
              1. re: pigtails

                I roasted a couple of halved delicatas the other day. The skin was so fine and tender and flavourful that there was no reason not to eat it.

                1. re: pigtails

                  delicatas are hands-down my favorite squash especially in light of it's delicious, tender skin.

                2. Absolutely, they're edible. Some are tougher than others (i.e. butternut's softness v. acorn's slight thickness.) I first discovered the deliciousness of squash skins when I baked a butternut whole, and had to eat the whole thing, it was so tasty!
                  Just last night I made a green curry w/ chicken and butternut squash, and went on instincts, leaving the skin on the parts I was too lazy to peel (you know, those trickly crevices ;). RESULT: The blackish green of the skins on the bright orange flesh of the squash cubes added a lovely color contrast and actually a tasty texture. My boyfriend liked the texture even more than I did.
                  AND! Surely a little skin is also good roughage for us extra fiber-lovers!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sijo

                    Exactly! it adds good texture. and yes, fiber does the body good :)

                  2. The skin of squashes are usually like leather. I'd pass on eating that.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cstr

                      the local Ponderosa restaurant has been offering whole baked chunks of butternut squash on their buffet for some time- knowing asking (how its done ) wouldnt produce results , i looked online - butternut skin is soft and wonderful - i will not peel another if i can get away with it (im not a cook per se)

                    2. Thanks guys. And Happy Thanksgiving!

                      1. I find acorn squash with its skin is a surprising novelty for a microwave-to-blender chilled smoothie. Wash, halve, and deseed the squash, place both halves skin-up directly on the nuke turntable and let rip! Careful with your fingers, steamy hot! I did lots of added prep early in my learning curve but now I find that acorn squash is no more fussy in the microwave than it is in the garden. Steams easily and not even a little a bit fussy.

                        Thoroughly cooled add water sufficient to blend and for desired thickness. Sweeten (I go artificial) and season in any direction your imagination might take! Cinnamon is a natural starter and I alter among various extracts. A bit different as you might imagine. A mild yellow smoothie with green specks. Quite thick and just packed with nutrition!

                        1. An alternative: Save the skins and freeze. Throw in lil bits of left over onion or scallions. And almost any other veg! When you have "enough"(I usually figure one gallon size bag's worth. Put them in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and roast at 450 for about an hour

                          Takes the stuff that's left and add it to a stockpot. Pour in about 4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil..simmer 30 mins.

                          Strain into a bowl and let the remnants cool. Scrape off any remaining "flesh" and add it back to the broth. Take it all and throw n a food processor or blender and liquefy. Strain once more and you got a wonderful soup/sauce base that can be re-frozen or used.

                          A bit of garlic and thyme, salt, and whatever other spices hit your fancy can be added at anytime during the broth making.