Butternut squash is a hard-skinned, winter squash that grows on the vine. Its beige skin gives way to bright orange flesh that is naturally sweet and nutty.
This might come as a surprise to some, but the butternut squash is technically a type of pumpkin. I will be honest and say I was surprised to learn that too. Apparently, any hard-skinned squash can potentially be called a pumpkin.
Crazy, right? In fact, in Australia and New Zealand, it is sometimes called the butternut pumpkin.
Another fun fact: botanically speaking butternut squash is a fruit, but in the kitchen, we treat it very much like a vegetable. It is wonderful roasted, sautéed, pureed for soups, mashed, made into pumpkin butter, and, of course, in baked goods.
They have an oblong shape that can sometimes be a bit bulbous. Their seeds are in a pocket at one end which means more meat and more bang for your buck.
When it comes to buying a ripe squash, you want to look for one that has sturdy, hard skin with no soft spots or deep cuts. It should also be heavy for its size and have a nice matte, beige color. Knock gently with your knuckles and if it sounds hollow, you have a winner.
Butternut squash is great because it is hearty and can last for a while on your counter or in your pantry. A whole, uncut squash can last around two months in the right conditions aka a cool spot with little to no sunlight. If you can find one with a stem, it will generally last longer than one without it.
These things aren’t exactly small and if you want to save some for later. Cut squash will keep in the fridge, in an air-tight container, for about a week.
Alternatively, it will last about 6 months to a year in the freezer. Go ahead and cut it up, freeze it on a sheet tray or plate and then, once frozen, put it in a freezer-safe container. This will allow you to easily separate cubes or chunks later.
Here are some great recipes with butternut squash:
They are not only delicious but also nutritious! These wonders are low in calories while being loaded with vitamins and minerals. Things vitamins A, C, and E along with magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, fiber, and folate are in each serving in spades.
Do I need to peel butternut squash before cooking it?
If you are roasting the squash in the oven, not necessarily. Should you be throwing it into a pan, it is really about personal preference. The skin is edible, but it is very tough. It will soften as it is cooked.
If it isn’t for you, cut off on an end of the squash so it can stand on end in a sturdy way. Use your knife to carefully trim away the skin in large, long, strips. Break down the rest of the squash as needed.
Can you eat butternut squash raw?
Yep! Shaving it and marinating it a bit in dressing is a great (and easy) way to create a fun side for the dinner table.