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Q: Painlessy Peeling a Butternut Squash ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: Painlessy Peeling a Butternut Squash
Category: Family and Home > Food and Cooking
Asked by: cohda-ga
List Price: $3.00
Posted: 06 Jan 2006 12:41 PST
Expires: 05 Feb 2006 12:41 PST
Question ID: 430055
I would like suggestions on how to peel a butternut squash without
becoming an amputee.

I started with an el cheapo vegetable peeler, which I knew was a bad
idea, but it was Christmas and no stores were open for me to purchase
better equipment. The peeler worked, more or less, but it was
difficult and took too long. I tried an apple/potato
corer-peeler-slicer gizmo. They aren't kidding. It works on nothing
except apples and potatoes. I hacked at it with a middle-of-the-line
paring knife. That was almost as ineffective as the bottom-of-the-line
peeler. I did not try parboiling it because the skin is too tough and
thick for that to work without ruining the squash. My Butternut Squash
Brulee was fabulous. My heavily bandaged fingers were not.

Take it away all you creative cooks out there.
Subject: Re: Painlessy Peeling a Butternut Squash
Answered By: chromedome-ga on 07 Jan 2006 08:06 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
You will be happy to know, Cohda, that professional cooks struggle
with squashes in exactly the same way (it's not just you!).  The
comments given below summarize most of the techniques that are used in
kitchens around the world.

*Cut the squash into convenient-sized pieces with a heavy chef's
knife, and then use a sharp paring knife or good peeler for the small

*Cut the squash into chunks and roast or boil it, then peel off the
skin with your fingers when it's cool...

*Halve the squash, roast it, and then either scoop out the flesh with
a spoon or peel the skin off with your fingers and a small knife.

Sometimes, however, it is desirable to have nicely-diced squash in
your dish, and none of these options are entirely satisfactory for
that purpose.  Boiled or roasted squash tend to fall apart very
quickly when you cook with them; and squash which have been hacked up
into manageable chunks do not lend themselves to dicing uniformly. 
Fortunately, there is a solution.

Take your squash and put it into a suitably-sized pot.  Cover it with
water, put the lid on the pot, and bring it to a boil (the steam
trapped in the pot will cook whatever portion of the squash is above
the surface).  Simmer the squash for just a few minutes, until a
wooden skewer or toothpick can penetrate the skin but *just* the skin;
roughly 4-5 minutes.  Allow the squash to cool.

At this point, the skin of the squash is cooked, and so is a tiny bit
of the squash under the skin.  These are now soft, and can be peeled
effortlessly with any regular peeler.  You now have a naked squash,
ready to dice and prepare in any fashion that appeals to you.  This
technique is best used with butternut squash, but any other large
meaty squash would work too (good luck finding a pot big enough for a
banana squash, mind you...).

For a squash creme brulee, I would recommend roasting the squash
either before or after peeling (I'd roast first, being lazy), since
the roasting process caramelizes the naturally-occurring sugars in the
squash and adds much flavour to the end result.  I made squash
souffles for my Thanksgiving dessert, and followed that technique.

If you wanted a dish to showcase nicely-diced squash, I'd suggest
adding them to a rich chowder or bisque made with crab or lobster; the
sweetness of the squash complements the seafood beautifully.

A trick to cook your squash without losing flavour:  take the stringy
pulp you've scooped out of the middle, and simmer it in a few cups of
water.  Strain it, salt lightly, and use this squash broth to gently
simmer your nicely-diced pieces until they're tender.  Then add them
to your soup.

Search strategy

In this instance, I did not need to resort to Google.  I am a cook by
trade, and these are techniques that I've acquired over the years.

Thank you for the opportunity to hold forth on one of my favourite subjects!

cohda-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
This was pretty much a troll to test the Google Answers waters, and to
get a bit of sympathy for my bleeding fingers. Since I priced it so
pathetically low, I didn't expect anything beyond a bunch of readers
telling me not to peel the thing in the first place. Chromedome's
answer was excellent, and included some very welcome tips that I
didn't ask for.

Subject: Re: Painlessy Peeling a Butternut Squash
From: redhoss-ga on 06 Jan 2006 13:21 PST
I am not a great chef, but I do know butternut squash. I would suggest
that you do not "peel" a butternut squash. I would cut it in half
lengthwise and scoop out the insides with a spoon. You could possibly
do this raw, but it would be much easier to scoop out if you bake it
first. Turn them flesh side down and bake for 45 mins. (or until done)
@ 350.
Subject: Re: Painlessy Peeling a Butternut Squash
From: jupdfl-ga on 06 Jan 2006 13:28 PST
Butternut Squash Brulee! Sounds awesome!

Poor thing...I'd wouldn't attempt attacking any squash with a peeler
or paring knife.

I've always cooked it first (baked or microwaved), then scooped out
the inside, leaving the rind behind.

I guess if you HAD to peel it first, I'd cut it into more manageable
pieces first and then slice the rind off. Use your biggest *chef's*
knife though.  You need a stable surface and some heft behind you.

Good luck
Subject: Re: Painlessy Peeling a Butternut Squash
From: purplecloud-ga on 07 Jan 2006 01:09 PST
I know *exactly* what you mean about trying to peel a squash! I used
to end up with sore wrists. What I do now is cut/chop the squash into
three inch rounds through the fullest part of the squash, and then
quarter each round. I discard the seeds and stringy things. Then I use
a knife to cut off the skin. Where I live we don't usually use ovens,
so I boil the squash as if I were making mashed potatoes. Takes about
20 minutes in boiling water. I usually use the squash to make a squash
Great Question!
Subject: Re: Painlessy Peeling a Butternut Squash
From: steph53-ga on 08 Jan 2006 18:30 PST
Welcome back Chromedome!!!

Long time no see.

Subject: Re: Painlessy Peeling a Butternut Squash
From: chromedome-ga on 25 Dec 2006 11:10 PST
One minor correction I'd like to make...the instructions should read
"place the squash in a pot of boiling water."  If the squash is in the
water while the pot comes to a boil, it will cook more than is
desirable.  Boil the water first, simmer the squash for a few minutes,
then proceed as above.

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