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Must I peel the butternut squash?

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  • jenn Nov 18, 2010 12:01 PM
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In the fall, I buy extraordinary kabocha squash from a farmer at my farmer's market. At his stand he has samples with a big sign advising consumers if you aren't going to eat the skin, keep your hands off the samples. As an aside, you would be amazed by the differences in Kabocha flavor.

And you know--he is right. The skin, rind, what have you, tastes yummy. Plus when I make long cooked winter stews of grain and squash, leaving the skin on helps keep more structure in the squash.

Now I'm making something with butternut squash. The squashes in my possession are also fully organic. Do I have to peel them or can I just slice dice and toss in the stew as I would my kabocha?

For what its worth, its NOT a creamy type soup....

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  1. Yes, butternut has a rather tough skin you don't want to eat, creamy soup or not. I even eat acorn squash skin, but not butternut. So peel away.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      I'm in your camp. Once you roast it, the meat falls off the skin anyway but I hate the texture of the skin. I also peel my persimmons for the same reason.

    2. Nope, you don't need to peel it. I use it in soups, stews and curries without peeling all the time. Needs slightly longer cooking but it does soften nicely.

      4 Replies
      1. re: serah

        What?? Are we talking about the same squash? See photo. I sometimes roast it skin on, and scoop out the flesh, easier than peeling. I wouldn't consider sticking unpeeled chunks in a soup; the skin is not very digestible, pretty chewy as it's cellulose, and may add an odd flavor to your dish.

        http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:AN...

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          In my experience, Kabocha is just as hard as a butter nut squash and it cooks up nicely--thats why I wondered if I had to peel it or could get away with cooking longer.

          whats wrong with cellulose---just a bit of fiber!!!

          1. re: jenn

            The meat of these two squashes are just as firm, but the skin of a Kabocha is softer and thinner than butternut, as is acorn, which has a firmer meat than butternut or Kabocha. I eat the skin of acorn after roasting. Squash skin is not the same from cultivar to cultivar. Would you add unpeeled pumpkin chunks to a stew? Maybe a very young tender one. Same with butternut, but I wouldn't think you have a young butternut at this point in the season. The skin hardens after being exposed to cold weather or frost.

            Fiber's great, but it is chewy!

            I suppose if you like chewy bits, go for it, but it's not that hard to peel a butternut.

          2. re: bushwickgirl

            Yep, I'm talking about the squash in your picture! Especially if you're blending a soup, it's unnoticeable. I remove the skin mainly for aesthetic reasons; so, for example, if I'm making butternut squash risotto I'll peel it but if I'm making a rough and ready rustic stew it stays on.

        2. I do peel mine, but I guess I have never tried to keep the skin/rind on, so I really cannot say how bad it can be.

          1. I don't think butternut squash skin will hurt you, at least. I don't find it texturally pleasing - just a thin layer of hardened cellulose. I've never tried cooking it to mush and letting the skin try to keep the dice intact, so I can't help you there.

            I haven't used kabocha squash but I have used blue hubbard, which is probably more similar than butternut. The big difference, in my mind, is I can't see how butternut skin could add anything to the flavor of the cooked squash. It's really just a thin, nearly odorless, very hard layer of cellulose, a bit different from the peel on a blue hubbard. It will also likely not caramelize well, which I'm often going for when cooking butternut squash.

            Aside from the small amount of labor saved, I just don't see much of an upside of leaving butternut unpeeled.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cowboyardee

              "texturally pleasing "

              That says it all and is an important consideration when cooking.

            2. Early in the harvesting season the skin of butternut squash can be cooked and eaten however, as the season progresses the skin should be peeled.

              1. I'm sure you can eat it, but I personally don't care for the texture. I'm not hard up for dietary fiber, thank goodness. Delicata or kabocha is another story. And butternuts are at least a cinch to peel.

                1. I only peel my butternuts when i am doing something creamy/pureed. I leave the skin on when I roast them (Slice arcs 1cm thick and roast with garlic and olive oil and salt until starting to char at edges).

                  hb

                  1. I hope everyone is talking about the same kind of squash. To me, kabocha is similar to what I call a butterCup squash. I grow a variety of kabocha that is called Confection (light greenish gray skin) and agree the skin is edible. But, butterNut squash has a different kind of rind that seems to dry to a hard shell. If I miss a piece of rind it's like having an eggshell in mashed squash. Kabocha's skin seems to have a somewhat waxy layer that is evident when I microwave the squash.

                    I also don't agree that the flesh of each variety is similar. ButterNut tends to be too soft and watery for our tastes. We chose Confection because it is very dry and sweet and keeps well all winter.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: dfrostnh

                      Kabocha photo, variety unknown:

                      http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:AN...

                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        I haven't used butternut (only buttercup, acorn, and sweet meat), but I always include most or all of the skin if I'm going to be pureeing anyway; veggie skins are usually the most nutrient-dense part, so as long as it doesn't give a taste or texture you don't like, using them is preferable. Today I'm trying a blue Hubbard--when it's done roasting, I'll take a bite & decide if I should peel it before pureeing it for my soup. According to this page http://whatscookingamerica.net/squash... "every part of the squash plant can be eaten"....though the same page says most winter squash skins are inedible. I think by this they simply mean that it's tough.

                        1. re: eseattle

                          update: I'm in for blue hubbard skins too--now that it's nicely roasted, the skin has no strong flavor, and is plenty soft enough even without the pureeing I'll do for the soup.

                          kiwi skin, too, is edible (that one surprised me, though now that I think about it it probably shouldn't have)--anyone for banana peels? I draw the line...though a friend's sister ate one on a dare when we were kids, and lived to tell the tale.

                          I guess my bias is that if it's part of a vegetable or fruit that we eat, and if it tastes reasonably good, it's almost certainly good for us. I'd be even more adamant than usual about it being organic, though, if I'm going to eat the skin.

                          1. re: eseattle

                            Yes, I equate hubbard skin with acorn, which I eat, no prob, tender after being roasted. It's just the butternut, I find it's skin too tough and remove it, unless I'm roasting chunks, then I scrape off the cooked flesh.

                            Kiwi? I eat them whole, but not banana skins, tried that once, blech.

                    2. I always roast with the skin on and then scoop the flesh to use in whatever I've got planned, recipe wise. I find roasting with the skin on enhances the flavor, but the skin is tough enough to be a texture problem in a finished recipe.