Winter squash and their different varieties, shapes, patterns, colours and flavours can make it a lot easier to survive the harshness of the winter. But winter squashes, though sweet and flavourful, are not the easiest things to prepare. Anyone that wants to enjoy winter squash must first learn how to cut and peel these often massive veggies without slipping up or hurting oneself in the process.
Although some people opt for pre-peeled and cubed squash that is easily available in the grocery store, these varieties of winter squash are not usually as fresh as they should be and most are too expensive. Rather than spend money on something that will not be as fresh, a lot of individuals prefer to prepare their winter squash from scratch.
While some winter squashes, especially those available early on in the season do have thinner rinds that are easier to peel, most squashes have a tough outer shell that can challenge even the sharpest chef’s knife.
The process of preparing and peeling winter squash can be made all the more complicated by the shape of the winter squash that you are dealing with. And when you finally mange to cut your way through one, there are still several grooves and ridges on the rind that you will have to manoeuvre, which can make the entire peeling and prep process more daunting than it needs to be.
How to peel a winter squash
1. Parboil or microwave the squash
Fortunately, there are some hacks that you can rely on to make the process of peeling winter squash easier. Some individuals par-cook the quash for a short time in a pot of boiling water as a means of softening the rind while others prefer to use the microwave to soften the tough rind. When using the microwave or par-boiling, try and avoid overcooking the squash although a few minutes should not affect the flesh on the inside.
2. Segment the squash
Slice off both the top and the bottom of your winter squash to provide a base and some stability that will make then make it easy to peel the squash. If you opt not to create a base, you can also try rotating the squash carefully as you work the knife through.
3. Decide whether to peel or not to peel the squash
If you decide that you want your squash peeled before cooking, peel using a knife instead of a peeler. Peelers can be very hard to control which is why they are regularly used for smaller veggies like carrots, cucumbers and potatoes. Not only will using a knife give you greater control over the hard surface of the squash, but it will not require as much effort or work as a peeler.
Sometimes it is also easier to prepare, that is roast or cook, the winter squash before peeling it. This process will make the surface softer for peeling and it will result in fewer accidents occurring. A lot of people also prefer to leave the flesh of the winter squash on so that they can eat the entire squash whole, rinds and all.