5 Helpful Tips for Preparing Winter Squash

(Image credit: Katie Webster)

There’s much to love about the versatility of winter squashes — big and small. Roasted, steamed, stir-fried, and puréed, they make a welcome addition to meals any time of day. But getting that delicious squash on your plate will take a little work. These five smart tips will help you handle them like a pro.

1. Peel your squash with a knife.

When using a peeler, it’s tough to get a good grip on the squash, which means you don’t have as much control. Instead save the peeler for smaller vegetables, like potatoes and carrots, and use a good, sharp knife. Not only will it give you more control over that hard squash, but you also won’t need to make as many cuts.

2. Toss squash peels in your stock.

Even though you might not be able to eat the peel from butternut squash or kabocha squash, that’s no reason to toss them in the trash. Instead save the peels, seeds, and inner fibers for your next stock, where they’ll contribute some nice flavors.

3. A melon baller is an easier way to remove squash seeds.

Your melon baller shouldn’t be reserved strictly for summer fruit; this little tool is adept at scooping out seeds and the fibrous bits around them. Its thin but sturdy construction easily cuts through the strings and breaks them up, leaving little behind.

4. Your slow cooker is the easiest way to cook butternut squash.

No more peeling the skin or cutting through the hard flesh. Instead, place the whole cleaned squash in the bowl of the slow cooker, cover with the lid, and cook until tender.

5. Extend the life of winter squash even longer by freezing it.

Winter squash already has a long shelf life, but sometimes we just need a little more time to make sure we use it up before it goes bad. You can freeze the squash uncooked (after peeling and dicing), or roast it and freeze it as a purée.