Green butternut squash edible

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Ripening Green, Unripe Squash

Toward the end of the season, there’s nothing worse than having squash still on the vine and a frost comes along and prevents them from ripening. You might think a lot of squash went to waste, but that isn’t true. You are simply left with unripe squash and you can ripen them easily. Read on to learn more.

How to Ripen Squash

You could take the unripe squash and just throw them away; but why? These squash are still good and you can ripen squash if you follow these simple procedures:

The first thing you need to do to ripen squash is to harvest all the green squash. Cut them off the vine, leaving at least a couple of inches of vine as a stem.

Bringing unripe squash indoors to ripen is a great idea, but be sure to wash them off, as there is a great threat to ripening squash of mold or rot. You don’t want to spend your time gathering all the unripe squash only to have it all rot in a pile. This is just a preventive measure to make sure they don’t succumb to mold or rot before they get a chance to ripen.

Once you wipe them off, find a warm, sunny spot for ripening squash. Without sunlight, they will just remain green and unripened. If the whole squash is unripened, turn it periodically so that it can ripen on all sides. If one side is unripened, put the green side toward the sun and it will do the job.

Remember, an early frost doesn’t mean you are stuck with unripe squash. You can ripen your squash by picking it and utilizing the sunshine.

How to Ripen Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash image by DSL from Fotolia.com

Squash is a common sight in many gardens. Bad weather, frost and other uncontrollable circumstances can cause your butternut squash not to ripen on the vine properly. When this happens, many people just toss the unripened squash. Instead, try ripening the butternut squash in your home.

Cut the unripened butternut squash from the vine. Leave at least 3 inches of the vine attached to the squash. Use the vine instead of the squash when handling the vegetable.

Mix 6 parts water with 1 part household bleach, wipe the squash with the solution and allow to air dry. The water-bleach mixture will help prevent the squash from rotting.

Place the butternut squash in a sunny location in your home. Squash must have sunlight in order to ripen. If left with no sunlight, squash will remain unripened.

Turn the squash over periodically so that all sides of the vegetable get adequate sunlight to ripen. The green lines on unripened butternut squash will fade and the squash will have a pale or light orange color when the vegetable is ripe.

If you are growing butternut squash for the first time, knowing when and how to harvest it is essential. Harvesting your fruit at the wrong time or using the wrong technique can cause damage to your fruit or plant.

When to Harvest Butternut Squash:

It is essential to wait for about 110-120 days after planting the seeds, for the vegetable to grow completely mature before you harvest it. If you see that it has already rotten before harvest, use it for compost rather than letting it go to waste.

How to Harvest Butternut Squash:

Harvesting butternut squash can be tricky. The most essential fact to remember during harvest is that leaving a few inches of the stem connected to the vegetable ensures a longer life span.

Learn all about butternut squash ripening, harvest time, and efficient storage as we dive into the details in the sections below.

Harvesting Butternut Squash

Twisting and pulling your butternut squash directly from the vine might be enticing once you see your vegetable ready but as they say, just because it’s easier, doesn’t mean it is better. If you do so, your butternut squash can be subject to damage and pulling it without the stem may result in early rotting.

Cut your butternut squash using a pair of pruning shears or gardening scissors from the vine. For best results and prevention from early rotting, it is essential that you leave a few inches of the stem connected to the vegetable when you make your cut.

In case you remove the stem completely, it is best to consume the vegetable as soon as possible as it is likely to spoil. If you see that your butternut squash is already overripe and spoilt before harvest, use it for compost rather than letting it go to waste.

How Long Does It Take for Butternut Squash to Ripen?

Butternut squash is also known as winter squash but unlike its name, it is best to plant it in the spring. It takes about 110-120 days for butternut squash to grow mature and it is best to carry out your harvest before the first frost. Leave your vegetable on the vine until late September or October to ensure that its skin thickens as necessary for winter storage.

How to Check Butternut Squash for Ripening

Here are some tips to know when your butternut squash has ripened:

  • If it is green with dark green stripes then it is not ripe. You need to wait for a few more weeks and notice the change in color. Your butternut squash is ripe when it has a deep, solid tan with a minimum amount of green striping near the stem.
  • If it has a green, soft stem that hasn’t withered at all then it is not ripe. Your vegetable is ready for harvest when the stem is shriveled, brown in color, and tough.
  • It’s time for the fingernail test. Poke the rind of the butternut squash with your nail and see if you can push through the skin. If you can, then it is not ripe and ready for harvest. When it’s the right time, the skin will be tough, rigid, and difficult to pierce.

Butternut Squash Ripening off the Vine After Picking

Bad weather, frosty conditions, and other uncontrollable factors might cause your butternut squash to not ripen properly on the vine. Although your fruit might not ripen naturally after picking, that is no reason to toss it away. Here is how you can cure your unripe butternut squash after harvest:

Things You’ll Need

  • Pruning shears/Gardening scissors
  • Household Bleach
  • Water

Method

  1. Cut your unripe butternut squash from the vine while leaving a few inches of stem attached to it. Handle the vegetable using its vine.
  2. Mix water and household bleach in 6:1 ratio respectively. Wipe your squash with the mixture and let it dry completely.
  3. It is essential to leave your butternut squash in the sunlight for ripening.
  4. Turn the vegetable over regular periods of time so that all its sides receive an equal amount of sunlight and ripen properly.

How Long Does Butternut Squash Stay Good After Picking?

Fresh butternut squash is known to last for one to three months after picking whether you leave it at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

How to Tell If Butternut Squash Is Spoiled

When the butternut squash is going bad or starting to rot, fluid begins to leak from the vegetable and it begins to turn soft and mushy. Mold may also start to form and it is important that you discard it at this point. Like any other vegetables and fruits, the longer you leave butternut squash on the shelf, the more nutrients it keeps losing. It is best to consume when it fresh and the taste is at its peak.

How to Store Butternut Squash and Extend Its Life Span

It is best to store fresh, uncut, and raw butternut squash in a cool dry place. The optimum temperatures are 50° to 60° Fahrenheit. You don’t want sunlight to boost the ripening process, therefore, store your vegetable in a basement, closet, or a pantry. Freezing raw squash is not recommended as the textures might be compromised and the taste might get altered.

If you still want to opt for freezing, cut your raw butternut squash into small cubes. Place a butter paper on a flat tray, spread the cubes on it and freeze. Make sure you don’t pile up the cubes to prevent the pieces from sticking to each other. Once completely frozen, transfer your frozen squash cubes in an air-tight container or a zippered plastic bag and refreeze. Label your jars or packets with the storage date. Although the squash won’t go bad for a long period, it is best that you use it within 6-8 months of storage.

Another butternut squash storage option is roasting it and making a puree before freezing. Just like raw squash, fill the puree in little air-tight jars or zip-lock plastic bags. Defreeze and use it to make baby food or simply add it in your soup, gravy, and pie recipes. Similar to pumpkin seeds, butternut squash seeds are also known to be edible. You can roast and use them in a similar manner.

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Pumpkin and Winter Squash Harvest and Storage

Winter squash and pumpkin fruit sitting in the field face a daunting list of diseases and insects – not to mention possible passing hurricanes — that could threaten fruit quality. Early harvest and careful storage is often preferable to leaving fruit in the field. This is especially true if you know that your pumpkins or squash are in fields that are infected with Phytophthora blight.

Since the pumpkin market lasts from Labor Day to Halloween, pumpkins may need to be held for several weeks before they can be marketed. When is it best to bring then in, and when to leave them in the field? If the vines are in good condition, the foliage can protect the fruit from sunscald. If foliage is going down from powdery mildew or downy mildew, this may help with ripening and make harvesting easier, but also increases the risk of sunscald or injury to pumpkin handles. There can be extra work involved in bringing fruit in early, especially for growers who normally have pick-your-own harvest, but we recommend that growers harvest as soon as crops are mature and store under proper conditions, if it is feasible. Attention to curing and handling will go a long way toward improving the life of winter squash and pumpkin fruit. If you need to hold fruit in the field for pick your own or any other reason, using a protectant fungicide (eg chlorothalonil) can help protect from black rot, powdery mildew and some of the other fruit rots.

What about pumpkin stems, ie, handles? In some cases, it’s the handle that sells the pumpkin. Pumpkins may not be marketable if the handle is broken off or dried up. Ideally, if the timing is right, pumpkins would be cut one to two weeks prior to marketing. However, if they are harvested now they may sit much longer before being sold. The discussion of how early to cut handles is an old one with many different opinions. One view is that it is advisable to cut the handles from the vine to save them from advancing powdery mildew and reduce shrinkage. Whether or not handles shrink and shrivel after cutting is affected by plant stress, genetics (variety), moisture and temperature conditions, and disease. There are many diseases that can affect handles, including Plectosporium, Fusarium, Black Rot, and Alternaria. Again, proper curing and storage conditions are key.

Ideally, pumpkins should be harvested when fully mature, with a deep orange color and hardened rind. However, as long as pumpkins have started to turn color, they will ripen off the vine if held under the proper conditions. While not ideal, this may be preferable to leaving them in the field if conditions are not favorable. If necessary, pumpkins can be ripened in a well-ventilated barn or greenhouse. The best temperatures for ripening are 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity of 80-85%. Night temperatures should not drop below the sixties. Even if pumpkins are ripe, a period of curing can improve storage life. The curing period should be about 10 days. During this process, the fruit skin hardens, wounds heal and immature fruit ripens – all of which prolongs the storage life.
Pumpkins should be stored in a cool, dry place. Ideal temperatures are between 50° and 60° F and relative humidity of 50 – 70%. Higher humidity allows condensation on the fruit with risk of disease, and lower humidity can cause dehydration. Higher temperatures increase respiration and can cause weight loss. Temperatures lower than 50 F cause chilling injury (see squash, below). In a greenhouse, temperature can be managed with ventilation on sunny days. Unless it is quite cool, heat is not likely to be needed if the house is closed up at night.

Often it is not feasible to harvest pumpkins early and store them until they can be marketed, and so they must be ‘stored’ in the field. If vines and fruit are healthy, storage in the field can be successful for a few weeks. If the vines die back, damage to the fruit from sun, disease and insects is more likely. In any case, it is important to scout for insects feeding on the fruit and handles, which may include squash bug nymphs or adults, or striped cucumber beetle. Control them if damage is evident. In fields that have a history of Phytophthora blight, Fusarium fruit rot, or black rot, field storage may increase the incidence of these problems, particularly if we have a period of wet weather or a major storm while fruit is sitting in the field. This has been one of the causes of significant losses in recent years, and one reason that we recommend bringing fruit in as soon as it is mature.

Growers often plan to store winter squash for much longer than eight weeks. Fruit that are free from disease and haven’t been subject to much chilling (below 50°F ) should be selected for long-term storage. Fruit from fields where Phythophthora is present are not the best choice for storage.

Storage life depends on the condition of the crop when it comes in and your ability to provide careful handling and a proper storage environment. All fruit placed in storage should be free of disease, decay, insects, and unhealed wounds. When harvesting squash and pumpkins, it is important to handle the fruit with care to avoid bruising or cutting the skin. Despite its tough appearance, squash and pumpkin fruit are easily damaged. The rind is the fruit’s only source of protection. Once that rind is bruised or punctured, decay organisms will invade and quickly break it down. Place fruit gently in containers and move bins on pallets. Use gloves to protect both the fruit and the workers. Removal of the stem from squash (butternut, Hubbard, etc.) will also decrease the amount of fruit spoilage because the stems frequently puncture adjacent fruit, facilitating infection.
A period of curing after harvest can help extend storage life of squash. This may be done in windrows in the field — especially with a series of warm, dry days — or by placing squash in a warm dry atmosphere (70-80°F) with good air circulation, such as a greenhouse, for up to two weeks. This pre-storage treatment permits rapid drying of the outer cell layers, and when combined with a dry atmosphere for storage inhibits infections that can take place at this time. Any clean cuts during harvest a likely to heal over and are no longer a source for injury or infection.

Take care to avoid subjecting squash to chilling injury. Chilling hours accumulate when squash or pumpkin is exposed to temperatures below 50°F in the field or in storage. Injury increases as temperature decreases and/or length of chilling time increases. Chilling injury is of particular concern with squash intended for storage because it increases the likelihood of breakdown. If squash has been exposed to chilling injury it should be marketed first and not selected for long-term storage. Remove squash from the field if temperatures likely to drop below fifty degrees for any length of time.

After curing, move squash or pumpkins to a dry, well-ventilated storage area. Pressure bruises can also reduce storage life, so avoid rough handling, tight packing, or piling fruit too high. Fruit temperature should be kept as close to the temperature of the air as possible to avoid condensation, which can lead to rot. Ideally, the storage environment should be kept at 55-60°F with a relative humidity of 50-70%. Lower relative humidity increases water loss, resulting in reduced weight, and if excessive, shriveling of fruit. High relative humidity provides a favorable environment for fungal and bacterial decay organisms. Under ideal conditions, disease-free pumpkins should have a storage life of 8-12 weeks and butternut squash up to three or four months. Even if it is difficult to provide the ideal conditions, storage in a shady, dry location, with fruit off the ground or the floor, is preferable to leaving fruit out in the field. As you plan for storage and marketing, keep in mind that the market for pumpkins seems to get earlier every year. Fall decorative displays include pumpkins, and those displays begin showing up as Labor Day approaches. One of the best solutions to early-maturing pumpkins may be finding an early market.

-R. Hazzard; many thanks to the following sources: J. Howell, A. Carter, and Robert Wick. University of Massachusetts; Dale Riggs & Robert Rouse, Pumpkin Production Guide, NRAES; Maurice Ogutu, University of Illinois Extension, in Vegetable Growers News, August 2004; and Liz Maynard, Purdue University; Andy Wyendandt, Rutgers Univ.

“OH MY GOD! The zucchini-looking squash are huge, I better act quick so they don’t get tough!” I filled my arms with giant, bulbous heirloom squash and trucked them to my car, a couple of times.

There comes a point where I’m ok with shredded zucchini bread, pancakes, fritters, latkes, dumplings, noodles, dried coins, kimchi, pureed soup and stuffed boats. But, at the beginning of the year, all I want to do is cook the smallest tiniest summer squash, those butter soft ones, with immature seeds so tender you forget they’re there. Too bad what I had just picked was not summer squash.

After a couple trips I went to close my hatchback and took a minute to look at the squash in the backseat. They were some kind of heirloom I couldn’t determine, something I hadn’t seen before. Wait. Some of the squash had bulbous bottoms. All of the squash were evenly long-necked, and kind of looked like, butternut squash. I had just picked a trunkful of green butternut squash. “Alan you are, an idiot” I thought.

Embarrassed, I sped an hour to the cities, brought them to the kitchen and unloaded them. There was no way I was going to let a silly mistake of mine ruin the squash harvest in the garden. It might be tricky, but I had to figure out something. Then, I had a revelation:

Continual harvest of squash and their shoots throughout the season

“In Nepal, they eat the young squash shoots, as well as the ripe squash. If I were living in Nepal, or another place around the world and farming for subsistence, would I only eat squash if it was ripe, or would I harvest anything and everything I could during the growing season to feed myself and my family, eating as many stages of squash along the way as I could, and the tender growing parts that go along with it?”

Unripe, they taste like summer squash.

The next day I cut one open, and cooked it a couple different ways to see how it took things, then came up with a plan. The squash was green and unripe, but it wasn’t inedible, it was actually good, and without any of the extra starchiness I thought I might get from it being unripe. It was a little like zucchini, the sweetness hadn’t developed yet, so it was definitely more savory-oriented and more firm, but not tough, just with a longer cooking time.

Squash and pumpkin vines/shoots are another great part of the plant to eat. They’re like Doctor Suess vegetables, I mean c’mon, look at the curly-cues!

I cooked it a few different ways and settled on an old agro-dolce prep we used to make at one of the Italian joints I worked at. When I gave a bite to the other chef I was working with, he said: “That’s good, I want to pair it with apples”. He was dead-on. It would need to be a firm baking apple obviously, but I could taste the two together, the neutral sqaush would be a great partner for a little tangy-sweet apple, a little yogurt or something, some sweet herbs like mint, cilantro, chives and tarragon, cooked shallot maybe, etc, etc, and, that’s a dish.

The finished product is a side dish, and is a fun study of squash. Cook a little squash and apple, toss in some green onion and purslane at the end, garnish with a couple squash vines, toasted pumpkinseeds and herby yogurt.

*Update. Oops, I forgot the pumpkinseeds, but they’re in the method anyway because they’d be great for a little crunch.*

The tendrils are a nice touch. .

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Green Butternut Squash with Apples, Squash Shoots and Purslane

Unripe butternut squash, cooked with a sweet and sour preparation, apples, and purslane Prep Time10 mins Cook Time14 mins Course: Appetizer, Salad Cuisine: American Keyword: Green butternut squash, Squash vines, Unripe squash Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled butternut squash cut into 1/2inch dice
  • 1 cup hard baking apples like Zestar or Braeburn, or good old granny smith
  • 1/2 cup thick Greek yogurt like Faye
  • 1 tablespoon sliced spearmint
  • kosher salt to taste
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice or taste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable stock or water
  • Purslane tips a small handful, picked and cleaned
  • 8-10 Squash shoots trimmed to about 4 inches, large leaves removed, and any small vines and minaiture squash reserved for garnish. Any excess stem sliced 1/2 inch (optional)
  • Toasted pumpkinseeds to garnish
  • 2 large scallion sliced 1/4 inch (optional)

Instructions

  • Mix the mint with the yogurt and season with a pinch of salt and a dash of lemon juice. Reserve.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and water with the squash in a wide sauté pan, season with a pinch of salt and simmer until the squash is just tender, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Made the apples to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes more, until the apples are tender. The juices in the pan should be slightly thick, coating the squash and apples lightly. Stir in the scallion and sliced squash vines, if using.
  • Meanwhile, quickly warm up the squash shoots in the remaining tablespoons of butter, just warm them through to soften, you don’t want to sear them. Season the shoots lightly.
  • To plate the dish, put a swoosh of yogurt in each of four soup bowls, evenly divide the squash-apple mixture between them, then top with two just warm squash shoots, a few pumpkinseeds and clusters of purslane and serve immediately.

Can I cook with nearly ripe butternut squash?

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Fall is obviously squash season, with the star of the show being the pumpkin in all of its spiced-up forms, of course.

But there are plenty of other delicious and nutrient-packed winter squashes available abound this time of year and they’re amazing in an abundance of autumn dishes, from casseroles and soups, to pastas and even desserts. Let’s take a look at how to buy and prepare some of the popular members of the curbitaceae family.

How to cook Butternut squash

Getty Images

This bell-shaped gourd has a thick, beige skin, hiding the bright orange flesh inside. That orange color is an indication that this veggie is loaded with beta-carotene (yup, just like carrots), which protects your eyes and helps keep your immune system strong. Butternut squash is also a great source of fiber — one cup of cooked squash contains 25 percent of the fiber you need for the day, plus as much potassium as a potato.

When you’re at the store, look for butternut squash that is heavy for its size, with no soft spots or cracks.

Make butternut squash 2 ways: Squash and feta bruschetta, autumn squash soup

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When it’s time to prep the squash, don’t let its tough exterior intimidate you. They are definitely a challenge to cut open, but a few steps should make it easier. Note: This method actually works well with any hard-skinned winter squash.

  1. Wash the outside of the squash under warm running water.
  2. Place the squash on a cutting board and slice off the curved bottom with a sharp knife to create a flat surface. Now you can use a sturdy vegetable peeler to remove the skin, peeling in a downward motion.
  3. Next, slice the squash in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. You can discard them or save them for roasting. You can now cut the squash into cubes, slices or whatever shape your recipe needs.

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In addition to roasting and sauteing, you can also steam or puree the squash. For a boost of fiber, try adding one cup of mashed butternut to your next batch of muffins. This adds a lot of moisture, which lets you reduce the butter or oil needed in the recipe by about half.

How to cook Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is incredibly versatile and easy to prepare for cold-weather soups, stews, salads and more. Getty Images

The wonderful shape of these small winter squashes lend them to be used as fall decoration, as well as a hearty meal ingredient. You can find acorn squash with green, white or gold skin. The flesh inside can range from light yellow to deep orange. There are actually several varieties of acorn squash, including Des Moines, Table Queen and Tuffy.

Look for acorn squash with a hard, uniform skin and no moldy spots. The skin is actually edible if roasted well.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon

Ed Brown

Acorn squash make wonderful vessels for stuffing with a flavorful combination of meat, herbs and grains (or dried fruit) like in Guy Fieri’s Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe.

Like butternut squash, acorn squash is a wonderful source of beta-carotene and one cup also provides nearly 2 milligrams of iron.

How to cook Spaghetti Squash

Named for the thin, noodle-like strands that form inside, spaghetti squash is yellow-gold on the outside and light golden inside. It’s oblong shaped and similar in size to a small watermelon.

Look for spaghetti squash with a hard skin that’s free of mold and soft spots. If the skin is tender to the touch, that means the squash was picked too early.

If you like zoodles, you’ll love spaghetti squash! For those looking to limit their carbohydrate intake, this squash can be a great addition to any diet since one cup of cooked spaghetti squash has just a quarter of the amount of carbs as a cup of regular cooked pasta.

Make lemon pasta, twice-baked spaghetti squash: Quick, easy and tasty

Jan. 16, 201804:17

Once spaghetti squash is cooked (you can boil it, roast it or even microwave it), simply take a fork and run it along the length of the squash, which will separate the strands into delicate noodles. Unlike the bolder flavor of butternut and acorn squash, spaghetti squash is much more mild and can be used as the base of many saucy dishes, similar to pasta.

The popularity of this squash grew during World War II when packaged pasta was difficult to find and Americans were encouraged to grow the squash in their victory gardens.

Quentin Bacon

Spaghetti Squash with Sage and Walnuts

Andrew Carmellini

Delicata Squash

Getty Images

One of the smallest of the winter squashes, delicata (also called peanut and bohemian squash) truly lives up to its sweet name. While still hard, this squash’s skin is much easier to cut though and can be eaten if properly cooked. This squash variety has a lovely, creamy white or yellow exterior, with thin bands of green. It also tastes similar to a sweet potato. Look for delicata squashes with hard, evenly colored skin and no soft spots.

Because the skin of the delicata is thinner than other winter squash, it doesn’t last as long after you buy it and it’s best enjoyed now, during the early fall season. You can also buy extra, slice it up and store it in a freezer bag if you want to enjoy it through the season.

Once you’ve squashed the basics, this type of veggie is super simple to prepare: Slice the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds (they’re delicious when roasted), then slice crosswise into half circles. Place the slices on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper (and maybe a little paprika) and roast at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until golden. They are seriously as tasty and addictive as french fries! And at just 40 calories per cup, you can enjoy those squash fries for a fraction of the calories.

Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY

Low-Calorie Spaghetti Squash Pasta with Broccoli Breadcrumbs

Joy Bauer

If you’re as gaga about gourds as I am, don’t worry about loading up at the store or farmer’s market. If you keep them in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area of your kitchen, winter squash will last for at least a month thanks to that hard, protective skin.

Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, is a nutrition expert, writer, mom of three and best-selling author. Her books include “Feed the Belly, The CarbLovers Diet” and “Eating in Color.” Follow her on Instagram and check out her website.

A complete guide on how to cut, peel, and cook a kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) with helpful tutorial video and step by step pictures.

Over the years I’ve asked by my readers how I cut a whole kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) for my kabocha recipes. So today I am sharing a complete guide on how I cut a kabocha squash (including how to peel and cook kabocha), along with some of my favorite kabocha recipes.

Watch How to Cut a Kabocha Squash

A complete guide on how to cut, peel, and cook a kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) with helpful tutorial video and step by step pictures.

What is Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin, has a thin but firm green skin and a bright vivid orange flesh. Amongst the many squash varieties, kabocha probably tastes the sweetest. Its rich texture and flavor is akin to a sweet potato and a pumpkin combined. The green outer skin may look deceptively hard, but it is edible.

Kabocha is used in many Japanese recipes where it is stewed, deep-fried into tempura, or even used in desserts. It has beta carotene, vitamins, and iron, and it’s one of those vegetables Japanese moms tell kids to eat it all up.

How to Pick a Kabocha Squash

Kabocha is grown year-round, but they are best in the late summer to late fall. When picking out the perfect kabocha squash, the two most important factors to consider are color and weight.

Choose kabocha that has a firm, deep-colored green rind. Some faint stripes, bumps, or blemishes on the skin are fine. And choose ones that feel heavy for their size (usually about 2-4 lbs).

If you’re looking for a substitute for kabocha squash, you can use acorn or buttercup squash as they both have edible green skin and sweet orange flesh.

How to Cut a Kabocha Squash

Step 1: Pick your knife

The most important tip to cut a kabocha squash is to get a large sharp knife. When you use a sharp knife, lesser force is required to make a cut of the squash. The edge of the knife bites the object precisely while a dull knife may slip and lose the control. That means a dull knife can be more dangerous than a sharp knife. It’s always good to invest on one high quality, all-purpose chef knife (instead of buying a fancy set of knives).

Now wash the kabocha squash and dry before moving onto the next step.

If you microwave half of kabocha, remove the seeds first.

Step 2: Microwave kabocha

You might have already known this tip, but microwaving* a kabocha really helps. The microwave cooking time varies depending on the size of your kabocha, how soft you want your kabocha to be (some recipes require kabocha to be more raw than others), and your maximum microwave wattage. But it’s good to remember 2 to 4 minutes as your starting point.

And if you’re like my son, you might be wondering if the kabocha squash would explode by microwaving. Let’s say it won’t happen unless you microwave it for like 10 minutes, which I’ve never done before. If you are curious to try, I can’t guarantee what would happen.

Now if your kabocha is bigger than your microwave or you don’t own a microwave, you can either cut the whole kabocha with a large and heavy sharp knife, or you can wrap the kabocha in aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 400 ºF (200 ºC) for 15 minutes.

*Disclaimer: Thanks to the commenter Lauren, we learned that a spark may come out from microwaving kabocha. I had never experienced this personally, but it’s good to know this could happen. When you microwave, step aside to keep an eye on kabocha. Read this article if you are interested.

Step 3: Remove the stem

If you are slicing the whole kabocha, remove the stem first using a large spoon. Just dig in a little and it’ll pop out.

Step 4: Slice kabocha into half

Stick the very sharp knife in the middle and work around the outside until you can cut it into two parts.

Step 5: Remove the seeds

Using a large spoon, remove the seeds and pith from the core of the kabocha squash.

Step 6: Slice the halves into wedges

Then slice the halves into 4-6 wedges depending on your recipe. You can also cut the halves in half first before slicing into smaller wedges.

Step 7: Cut the wedges into cubes or slices

Depending on your recipe, you may need to cut the wedges into cubes or slices. Decide if you want to remove the (edible) rind for your recipe. If you decide to remove it, read the next section before you cut into cubes or slices.

How to Peel a Kabocha Squash

The kabocha skin is edible. Many Japanese kabocha recipes such as kabocha tempura and simmered kabocha require to keep the skin on.

However, if you want to show that beautiful orange color in your recipe, you have to remove the rind as the dark green kabocha skin will not keep the beautiful orange flesh color.

Method 1: Peel kabocha skin before cooking

In most recipes, you will want to remove the skin first before cooking. Lay each wedge on its flat side, and slice the peel off. Then you can easily cut into small pieces.

Method 2: Peel kabocha skin after cooking

You will most likely use this method if you want to steam and puree the kabocha for your recipe. It’s best to keep the skin when steaming so that kabocha holds its shape and doesn’t stick to your steamer basket.

How to Store a Kabocha Squash

If you are not using the entire kabocha squash, make sure to remove the seeds and pith from cut kabocha before wrapping with plastic wrap. You can store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or in the freezer for a month.

You can store the whole uncut kabocha in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1-2 months.

How to Cook a Kabocha Squash & Kabocha Recipes

1. Steam It

Steam diced kabocha squsash (with skin on), remove the rind, mash the flesh, and shape into this delicious Kabocha Croquettes (Japanese Pumpkin Korokke).

2. Boil It

Boil peeled kabocha cubes and mash it to make this delicious Kabocha Salad.

3. Puree It

Throw steamed cubes into a food processor/blender to make Kabocha Squash Soup and Kabocha Squash Pie.

4. Simmer It

When simmered slowly in a delicious broth, curry, or stew, kabocha takes on a new depth of flavor. Check out traditional Japanese Simmered Kabocha made this way.

5. Stir Fry It

When you’re stir frying kabocha, it’s best to keep the rind on so that kabocha slices keep in shape. Make Kabocha Pork Stir Fry to go with your rice and miso soup.

6. Deep Fry It

Dip your kabocha slices (with skin on) in tempura batter and deep fry to golden crisp kabocha tempura!

7. Bake or Roast It

You can make your favorite casserole dishes with kabocha squash! Or toss kabocha squash with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper (or with your favorite spices and herbs) and let the oven does it work. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of kabocha beautifully.

Did you enjoy learning How to Cut a Kabocha Squash?

If you want to browse more kabocha recipes, . Thank you so much for reading and till next time!

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Have you ever eaten Kabocha squash? I used to be afraid of it since I wasn’t sure what is was BUT now, I think it might be my favorite squash of all…move over butternut!

It’s considered a Japanese pumpkin and has a hard, deep green skin. This winter squash is known for it’s exceptional flavor and texture and has a succulent, naturally sweet flesh.. Kabocha is even sweeter than butternut squash when it’s ripe (see notes below on how to pick a ripe one). The flavor and texture of the Japanese pumpkin has been said to be a cross between a sweet potato and a pumpkin.

Kabocha squashes are available all year round, but my research indicated the best flavored ones are harvested in the late summer and early fall. Kabocha can vary in size, with the average weighing two to four pounds. You can easily recognize a kabocha by its dark green color with some celadon colored stripes and a dull surface. It’s shape is like a squatty pumpkin and has a very short grey stem, and is more dense than a pumpkin because of its smaller cavity. The firm and stringless flesh inside is an intense yellow-orange color.

How to store: Kabocha squashes can be kept at room temperature for up to a month without refrigeration. After cooking, however, the leftovers must be refrigerated.

Nutrition: Eat up! Kabocha has an abundance of beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, is kabocha’s prime nutrient, along with vitamin C, iron and potassium. This starchy squash also contains folic acid, calcium, and trace B vitamins.

How to select a ripe Kabocha: Select a squash that looks heavy for it’s size, has splashes of golden or grayish hues on the exterior. The lighter gray the exterior, the sweeter it will be. You can still cook kabocha if it’s a deep emerald color (many people do!) but it’s at it’s peak with splotches of golden and/or gray.

TO BAKE/ROAST: Simply wash the squash and place, whole on a baking dish. Bake at 375 for 50 to 60 minutes unless exterior gives to the touch. To shorten the baking time, cut the squash in half with a very firm knife. Scoop out the seeds, brush cut areas with a little olive oil (or grapeseed or and place cut side down on a lightly oiled baking dish. The squash bakes in about 40 to 50 minutes at 375 F (350 for glass dish) until soft but not browned. The flesh can then be scooped out with a large spoon. You can mash well to form a puree, it makes a great substitute for pumpkin puree!

A cooked ripe kabocha is so delicious that it needs little or none of the usual fats and sweeteners traditionally added to bland squashes. It tastes lovely sprinkled with salt and pepper.

*If you wrap the squash in aluminum foil, shiny side inside, the skin, which is completely edible and highly nutritious, will remain soft enough to enjoy along with the delicious flesh.

TO STEAM: Use a very firm chef’s knife to cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, and lay cut side down on cutting board. You can leave the skin on the squash or if you choose to remove the skin, use both hands with the knife in a horizontal position, peel off the skin by holding the blade away from the body and using a pushing motion to cut. Cut squash into cubes and place in a steamer with sufficient water. Turn heat to high and steam for 7 to 10 minutes.

TO BRAISE: Cut into cubes as above and add to stews or soups the last 10 minutes of cooking.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy kabocha squash is mashed, sprinkled with salt, a bit cinnamon and a tablespoon or two of nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, and pecan butter are my favorites with this squash but cashew butter, sunflower seed butter and tahini would work too). This may sounds strange but it is SOOO delicious — thick about sweet potato casserole: potatoes, pecans and streusel – this is basically the same thing!

Mashed kabocha works great as a side dish, breakfast or a nutritious snack! You could even drizzle with maple syrup or honey for a dessert-like squash…If mixing nut butter with squash raises red flags (don’t knock it til you try it though), this squash could also be mashed with a small pat of butter or ghee (optional but delicious), salt and pepper and served as a nutritious replacement or addition to mashed potatoes at your next holiday or family meal!

Mashed Kabocha Squash with Nut Butter

Ingredients

1 cup cooked, roasted kabocha squash flesh, warmed (see instructions above how to bake)
sea salt to taste
ground cinnamon to taste
1-2 Tbsp of creamy or crunchy nut butter (peanut butter is my #1 choice)

optional toppings:
chopped nuts
drizzle of maple syrup or honey
coconut butter

Directions

1. Mash the kabocha flesh into a thick paste using a fork or a masher. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and salt to taste. Drizzle with warm or room temperature nut butter and enjoy! Delicious served hot or at room temperature.

Serves one but could be easily be doubled, tripled etc.

You can substitute cooked kabocha for other winter squashes in recipes too with yummy results:

  • Try using kabocha squash in my Crustless Pumpkin Pudding Pie in a Jar
  • Use cubed and roasted kabocha in my Caramelized Onion, Butternut and Goat Cheese Pizza
  • Make Kabocha Fries like my Butternut Squash Fries (skin is edible if difficult to peel)
  • Substitute Kabocha puree for pumpkin in my Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
  • and of course, you can make Kabocha soup…recipe to come 🙂

Thinking of adding to your squash varieties in your garden, but aren’t sure where to start? Japanese kabocha is a great option. Here’s what you need to know to start growing this delicious variety.

What Is Kabocha Squash?

Kabocha squash, otherwise known as the Japanese pumpkin, is a green winter squash from the Cucurbita maxima family. This Japanese squash originated in Cambodia and was introduced to the island nation by Portuguese explorers.

The squash commonly has a deep green skin with light green or white stripes and raised bumps that give it a slight texture. Other varieties come in blue, red, and even black.

The flesh itself, regardless of variety, is bright orange or yellow.

How to Grow Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash does best outdoors. It needs room for the vine to spread out and space for the squash to bloom and develop. Since most kabocha squash grows between 2 and 3 pounds, it’s best to let the vine sit flush on the ground.

Typically, the squash grows through the spring and summer months. They reach full size in the fall when they’re ready to harvest.

Each plant should produce 3-5 squash, but larger vines may produce more. You’ll need to space each vine out when planting to give them room to produce without overcrowding.

Here are are the types of squash that you might find amusing!

The Best Growing Conditions for Kabocha Squash

This squash variety does well in growing zones 2 through 11, making it ideal for most parts of the United States. Click here to find out which zone you’re in.

Ideally, the soil should have a pH of 6.1-7.0 and should be loosely tilled prior to planting. The perfect planting spot will be in full sun and soil temperatures should stay between 70-95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Kabocha vines need that soil to stay moist at all times, but not wet. If the soil feels overly dry, water it again.

Step-By-Step Guide for Growing Kabocha Squash

Growing kabocha is a surprisingly easy process, but you will need to start the process in early spring if you want your squash to reach maturity by fall.

1. Start the Seeds

You need to start your seeds inside your house a month before the final freeze of the year. Use peat pellets so you can transfer the seeds straight into the soil without stressing the roots.

2. Find the Right Spot

Make sure surrounding plants won’t crowd the new vines and choose a location with direct sunlight and proper drainage. Puddles of water can lead to root rot and kill your vines before they have a chance to produce any squash.

3. Plant Your Sprouted Seeds

Till the soil until it’s loose and fluffy. Then, plant the seedlings with at least four feet of space between each plant. This gives the roots and the vines room to spread out.

4. Water Correctly

Give the soil a good soaking once a week and let it rest in between. Check every few days to make sure the soil is still moist.

5. Watch for Pests

Squash bugs are the most common threat to kabocha vines. They drink the plant’s sap and cause the leaves and vines to wilt. Look for brown/black oblong beetle-like creatures crawling on the leaves and beneath the vines.

If you find bugs, remove them from the vine by hand and squish them. Check the leaves for eggs and scrape them off.

6. Harvest the Squash

Kabocha squash grows into early fall. Harvest when the skin turns a duller green and the stems harden and brown. Cut the stem with your pruning shears, leaving at least 2 inches of stem attached to the squash.

Let the squash cure in a sunny spot for about 10 days. Once cured, store the squash in a cool dark area inside the house. It should last for 4-5 months uncooked.

Common Uses for Kabocha Squash

Kabocha is almost exclusively used for food. The squash has a sweet flavor reminiscent of sweet potato more so than pumpkin, making it ideal for both sweet and savory dishes. The entire squash is edible and the skin crisps up nicely when cooked.

To prepare the squash, wash any remaining dirt off the exterior and cut it in half with a sturdy kitchen knife. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and loose fibers in the middle of the squash.

Set the seeds aside to roast for a delicious treat or save a few for the next year’s planting season.

Try these great recipes:

  • Roasted Kabocha
  • Kabocha Squash Pie
  • Turmeric Ginger Kabocha Squash Soup

Though most people grow them for food, you can use them to decorate in the fall without damaging the squash. Set them on the dining table with a few miniature pumpkins for a festive centerpiece.

Kabocha Squash Images

Kabocha has a very distinct look that sets it apart from other members of the squash family.

Look at That Green Color!

Kabocha squash is squat, green, and smaller than many other pumpkin varieties. When ripe, the glossy green skin turns a duller greenish brown, like the squash on the right.

It’s Not Just Green…

The skin has lighter streaks of green or white that give it a mottled appearance. But both solid-green and mottled kabocha are perfectly great for eating.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by E.W. Kean Co. (@kean_produce) on Apr 8, 2019 at 7:20am PDT

So Many Different Sizes

Kabocha averages 2-3 pounds in size, but some can grow much larger.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Good Farmer (@good_farmer15) on Mar 6, 2019 at 1:01am PST

Discoloration Is Natural

Discoloration on the skin doesn’t mean the kabocha is bad—it just means it grew in different conditions.

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A post shared by Emily Y (@professortonks) on Oct 25, 2016 at 7:55pm PDT

They’re the Perfect Dinner Option

When cooked, the yellowy orange flesh of the squash turns darker. The entire squash is edible and you don’t have to worry about peeling the skin.

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A post shared by Mathew Reeves (@chef_mat_reeves) on Dec 27, 2018 at 10:47am PST

Green Is Just the Beginning

Though most kabocha squashes are green, there are some red varieties available. The flavor, texture, and growing requirements are the same as the green varieties.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Happy Boy Farms (@happyboyfarms) on Dec 16, 2018 at 8:16am PST

Where to Buy Kabocha Squash Seeds

Ready to start growing kabocha yourself? Here’s everything you need to get started.

David’s Garden Winter Seeds Squash Winter Cha-Cha

Each pack contains 25 non-GMO green varietal kabocha seeds specially bred to resist black rot. After starting, your squash should be ready for harvesting in about 95 days.

Organic Heirloom Japanese Red Kabocha Seeds

These packets of 16 seeds are organic, produced without harmful pesticides or GMOs. The seeds produce beautiful red kabocha squash.

Japanese Black Pumpkin Seeds

If you’re looking for a unique relative to the standard kabocha squash, these Japanese black pumpkin seeds won’t disappoint. The flavor is similar to standard kabocha, but the skin of the pumpkin is a deeper, almost black, green.

Blue Kuri Japanese Kabocha Squash Seeds

Blue kuri squash is a bluer version of standard kabocha squash and these seeds will help you add color to your garden.

Bring a Bit of Japan to Your Garden

If you’re looking for a versatile alternative to standard pumpkin varieties, kabocha squash is an absolute must. The lightly sweet flavor works in countless recipes and the plant itself is easy to grow in almost all gardens.

Be amazed about these types of squash!

How to Tell When Butternut Squash Is Ripe

There’s no good reason not to eat butternut squash for breakfast this fall—even if you’re not totally sure how to tell if a squash it ripe or not. This autumn vegetable is incredibly versatile, whether you fry it up into a delicious butternut squash hash or roast it in the oven to make a butternut squash filling for a vegan-friendly quesadilla. But if you want to make the most of this produce, you should learn how to tell if squash is ripe. And the good news is that you don’t even have to cut into a butternut squash to tell if it’s ready to eat or not.

You can tell if your butternut squash is ripe by the color and texture of the outer rind. If there are any green spots, it’s definitely not ready to cook. The skin should be hard, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, not at all glossy, and en even color. You can also tell if a butternut squash, or any other winter squash, is ready to cook by pressing your fingernail through the flesh. “If you have to work at it, the squash is ripe; if it’s very easy to pierce, the squash is immature,” they write.

Once your winter squash is ripe, you have a while before you have to use it. The folks at the Farmer’s Almanac claim that squashes like butternut can last through most of the winter, especially if you store them in a cool, dark place like a pantry or under the bed, “if you have a cool bedroom,” kept about 50° to 65°F. Just remember that whole vegetables will last longer in your pantry than those you’ve chopped up and stored in your fridge, so if you want to make sure your squash lasts as long as possible, don’t cut it up until you’re ready to cook with it. (That way, you also won’t accidentally mistake your cubes of butternut squash for cubes of cheese.)

But when there are so many wonderful ways to eat winter squash like butternut squash, we wouldn’t blame you if your veggies didn’t make it through the week.

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