Select: Always pick squash that is firm and heavy for its size with a smooth, dull, thick rind. Those with soft rinds may lack flavor. If a stem is still attached, it should be rounded and dry. When choosing a green acorn squash, select one with less orange. Acorn squash that is more orange than green may be stringy.
Bake, steam, or microwave—here's 3 easy ways to make squash.
Store: Winter squash do best when stored in a dark, cool place, ideally at 55 degrees. Colder temperatures cause them to rot. At home, store whole, unwashed squash in a pantry and use within a few weeks. Cut squash can be stored covered in a refrigerator for a day or two.
Prep: Using a sturdy, sharp knife with a long blade, carefully pierce the rind and cut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and lay halves flat.
Hyvee Culinary Expert TipTo easily cut through a hard winter squash, pierce it all over with a knife and microwave for 3 to 4 minutes until it's soft enough to cut.
Peel: Peeling the squash is optional, since you can scoop out the edible flesh after it's cooked. Some squash, like delicata squash, have a thin skin that's edible once cooked. Others, like acorn squash, have a tougher skin that many people choose not to eat. Butternut squash is perhaps the easiest to peel before cooking. Just use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife.
To bake: Cut and remove seeds. Lightly oil a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place each half cut-side down and roast at 375 degrees about 35 to 45 minutes until tender.
Hyvee Culinary Expert TipWhen preparing any winter squash, save and roast the seeds to top salads, cereals, baked goods, and to have around as a healthy snack.
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To steam: Peel, remove seeds, and cut squash into pieces. Place in a steamer basket over 1 inch of boiling water. Cover and steam until tender, about 10 to 20 minutes. This works best with butternut squash.
To microwave: Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Place cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish with a lid and cook on full power for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. A knife will easily pierce the rind and flesh when it's ready. At this point, you can remove the squash, fill the centers with a little butter and seasoning, cover and microwave again for about 2 minutes.