Peeling firm winter squash (I'm looking at you, butternut) can go one of two ways: It can be so seamless and easy that you never give it a second thought, or you regard it as one of the most frustrating tasks of the season. As for which camp you're in, I'd argue it all depends on the tool you use for peeling. As you welcome winter squash season to your kitchen, this is the tool you'll want to keep by your side.
Why You Should Reach for a Y-Peeler
You can leave your chef's knife in the block and the swivel-head peeler in the drawer, because when it comes to peeling firm winter squash, the best tool for the job is a Y-peeler (or Swiss peeler) with a carbon steel blade. I've touted this little tool as the best $5 you'll spend in the kitchen, and in squash season I stand by that as firmly as ever.
In addition to the inexpensive price tag, there are two things that make this peeler the tool you want to reach for: the blade and the handle.
- The blade: Using a Y-peeler with a carbon steel blade means one thing — it's super sharp. Unlike a stainless steel blade, typically what you'll find on swivel-header peelers, this blade makes it easy to remove the squash's tough skin without too much effort. It also holds its sharp edge a lot longer.
- The handle: If you've ever used a cheap peeler for a tough job, you know just how uncomfortable it can be. The y-peeler has a flat, wide handle that proves more comfortable to hold and doesn't require such a tight grip.
Learn more: How To Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash
Why You Should Skip the Knife
Your chef's knife is great for cutting squash, but it's safest to leave it to the side for peeling. If the squash is wobbly, it can be tough to get a firm grip, leaving the potential for the knife to slip (this is even more likely if your knife is dull). Beyond safety, using a knife makes it more likely you're cutting away more of the squash's edible flesh than would happen with a peeler.