How to Peel and Cube Butternut Squash
If you’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen, you probably know how to make quick work of hard winter squash like butternut squash. But if you’re new to home cooking, or are just venturing out into something new, these “nearly hard as a rock” squash might seem a bit intimidating. But with a little know how, and a bit of practice, you’ll be cleaning, chopping, cubing, dicing, and slicing delicious butternut squash like a pro. Let the butternut squash soup, butternut squash salad, butternut squash tempura, and butternut squash side dish making commence!
How to Select a Choice Butternut Squash
The first step to prepping a squash is to buy one. Select one with firm skin and that is hard all over. Any soft spots are a sign of spoilage.
Second, choose one with a large thick neck and, preferably, a small bottom bell. The reason for this is that the bell is full of squash seeds. The neck, in contrast, is just delicious squash flesh. The thicker the neck, the more squash you’ll have to work with in your recipes. But if that proves to be difficult to find, just grab one that suites your fancy and take it home. They are all equally delicious.
How to Peel a Butternut Squash
Due to the incredible hardness of these squash, they are surprisingly resistant to being cut up. Before diving into the squash, make sure you have a strong sturdy knife (a chef’s knife is a great tool for this job), one which is nice and sharp. This will save you a bit of elbow grease.
Start by cutting your butternut squash just above the bottom bulbous bell. You will likely need to use both hands on your knife (one on the handle and one on the tip end of the blade) to accomplish this initial cut.
Next, cut the top and bottom ends off the squash.
Depending on the shape of your squash, you may want to reverse the order of these cuts, doing the ends first and then cutting the squash above the bell bottom.
Next, place the squash upright, cut side down, and begin peeling the squash by slicing the skin off with your knife. Move the knife back and forth as you apply downward force, following the curvature of the squash down to your cutting board. The squash will be much more resistant than say, an apple, but if your blade is sharp, the skin should slice off fairly easily. You can alternately use a vegetable peeler for this, but I find my chef’s knife does a faster job and is easier to use.
Peel the bulbous end the same way, then cut it in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Discard the seeds, or better yet, wash them and toast them in your oven for a crunchy snack.
How to Cube Butternut Squash
Most butternut squash recipes call for cubed butternut squash. Once your squash is peeled, dicing is quick and easy.
Start by standing the peeled squash neck on end and slicing it into 1-inch, 3/4-inch, or 1/2-inch steaks, whichever your recipe calls for.
Do the same with the bulbous end.
Next, lay the steaks flat on the cutting board, and slice into sticks the same width as the thickness of the steaks.
Lastly, cut the sticks into cubes, the same thickness as your previous cuts. You should now have a pile of 1-inch, 3/4-inch, or 1/2-inch cubes.
And that’s it. What seemed a bit daunting at first is really pretty easy to deal with, and is a wonderful addition to any Fall or Winter meal. Healthy, colorful, and delicious!
The Bald Gourmet teaches how to quickly and easily peel and cube butternut squash.
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