Winter Squash and Pumpkins

murphy_zone7December 5, 2011

What "tool" do you use to cut up a hard winter squash like butternut or acorn or pumpkins like long island cheese and mauna di Chioggia? I have used a heavy duty chefs knife on butternuts and acorns but they are so hard and my strength is so weak I am afraid of doing real damage to myself. Looking on line I see that you can bake or microwave whole to soften but only after piercing the rind. Unless I use a very long nail and a hammer, I don't see me being able to do that. So I come to the folks I know who know EVERYTHING about cooking. I just know you will have a solution for me. Currently, I am considering a chain or reciprocating saw.

Thanks so much.


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I guess you pierce before the microwave so steam doesn't build up inside and then they explode hot squash guts when you do try to cut them. I bake mine in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 min. and then cut. I was using a knife akin to a small machete, but since I discovered the method of cooking them a bit first to soften, I do that. Makes them easy to peel too. Can also microwave. I've done both. I guess I pierced them by just stabbing them a couple of time. Let them cool before slicing. I sound like a squash psycho! :)

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 6:22AM
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I have a long, commercial-style thick chef's knife with a thick indestructible plastic handle that my BIL gave me many years ago. He was a cook in the Coast Guard. I have a wooden meat mallet. I position the knife centered on the squash and I'm usually able to split them myself banging the mallet on the handle and then the end of the knife, alternating handle then knife end until the squash splits in two.

Not sure if I explained myself well. Yep - squash psycho lol!!


    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 7:52AM
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I used a heavy serrated knife on my last pumpkin and sawed through it. It worked well. It's a very thick-bladed long bread knife. A hacksaw would work as well. But just partly baking it whole would probably be simplest. Cut it open, removed the seeds and finish baking it. The skin comes off easily when fully cooked.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 9:21AM
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I cut up 2 marina del chioggia last winter.....well actually I had big teen age boy help with the second.
But for the first I used a kitchen saw meant for frozen food to cut out the first wedge and then the rest came easily with a big chef's knife.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 9:37AM
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I use the microwave trick...2 or 3 min after piercing a hole or two. It has changed my squash cooking life! Try it, you won't believe the difference it makes.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 11:51AM
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It sounds like you have power tools. . .can you make the hole with a drill? Or peel away some skin with a vegetable peeler to make it easier to punch?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 12:05PM
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What a great question. Just this week I was struggling with a very large sibley squash that I was determined to cut in slices and roast.

It was quite a job. I was wondering if an electric knife would have done the trick.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 5:21PM
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I grew a ton of Kabocha squash last year and I just washed them off, used the meat cleaver to cut it in half, cleaned out the seeds and baked cookie sheets.
The pulp was easy to scoop out and ready to be pureed.
Makes excellent pumpkin pie and any other recipes using pureed pumpkin.
Worked for me.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 8:44PM
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This little attachment makes it easy to cut thru a tough squash without having to cook the whole thing.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 9:35PM
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I'm not joking but would a screwdriver being hit by a mallet, or just a screwdriver, or better yet, a screw starter, poked by a crazed opponent work? Your thoughts?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 1:43AM
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Microwave - 3 min. Forget the tools, use a knife. really.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 1:47AM
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I have a newly acquired butternut squash. They are like stone. I will test the microwave technique soon.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 2:15AM
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thanks so much. I knew you guys would have ideas. I didn't think of myself as a "squash psycho" but come to think of it....a chain or reciprocating saw would be a bit psycho, gonna trash that idea.
dcarch, love that tool. where to acquire one of those???
I have about 10 butternut (grew in my garden) and maybe 6 or 7 of the other kinds to cook up. Like the oven method, don't even have to drill a hole in it for that, do I??? Stabbing them seems a bit dangerous....
Will report back later on what happened....gonna cook that marina del chioggia today. thank you Lindac for the correct name.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 5:00AM
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What a great question--I had the same problem last week and thought I would chop my finger off. Scary. If I do it in the oven, do I need to pierce it first?

Thank you!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 10:04AM
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Trudymom, if you partially bake acorn squash in a regular oven for 20-30 minutes before cutting it open and de-seeding, you don't need to pierce it first. I've done this many times, with no squash gut explosions. I haven't tried this method with butternut squash.

I think the piercing is needed when you put the squash in the microwave, but I haven't tried it that way, either, as I like the carmelized taste of oven-baked squash.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 10:24AM
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Microwaves cook from the inside out. So the inside of a squash in a micro could get way hotter than the outside. I do mine in the oven and don't pierce. But then I usually bake them all the way to done. I love them that way, so much easier than other methods, and they stay nice and moist inside. I only do the micro occasionally when I have to peel an acorn squash for some reason. I do not think I pierced it and I do not think it got that hot in the short period of time it was in there. I think the piercing is just a safety precaution because you never know hot some food gets in a micro, or what some people will do.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 11:23AM
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I am so excited try the squash in the oven. What temperature do you recommend? Thank you!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 8:56AM
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Depends how much time you have and whether something else, like meatloaf, is baking at the same time and requires a higher temperature. I'd recommend setting the temp to 350 deg (at 400 deg, the skin may scorch a bit, but the flesh of the squash will be fine).


    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 9:51AM
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Update! Finally got away from the Christmas prep to get that squash cooked. I put it on a foil covered baking sheet at 350 for about 20 minutes. No hole punched or anything. Still very hard, put back in for another 20 minutes and was able to cut in half with my chef's knife. Cleaned out the seeds, did not peel, and continued roasting for another 20 minutes or so. Now the squash/pumpkin I cooked was a named "sweet meat". I have never had this squash before and it tasted a bit bitter. Not sure if it was because it was cooked with the skin on or if that is just the way it tastes. Not so bitter that it can't be eaten, just has a slight bitter taste.
Anyway, success in cooking that thing with no loss of limb or blood! And no power tools involved! Now I know how to cook the others that I have.
I greatly appreciate the replies to my post.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 6:02AM
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I cooked my marina del chioggia with the bitterness, but it's not as sweet a squash as butternut or acorn or hubbard. The use I like best is a squash soup....can't give you an exact "recipe" but I took about 2 cups of squash and added a box of chicken broth 4 or 5 cut up green onions ( save some of the tops for garnish) a couple of cloves of garlic, chopped and 2 small celery stalks. Cover and simmer about an hour.....the squash should be very fine textured.....may need to cook longer, Add more chicken broth is it boils away.
When it's all well cooked, puree with a stick blender, add 2 cups milk and 1/4 of an 8 oz package of cream cheese, puree more. Add a small can of chopped green chilis, drained, salt and pepper to taste, re warm and serve topped with some of the green onion tops.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 11:04AM
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I've been getting some bitter acorn squash lately. I think bitterness might be just the way the squash turned out this year. Also been having trouble with not so great potatoes. I think the flavor develops in the field, and is not influenced by skin or not, but I am not a food scientist so I could be wrong. I just know that I find squashes to vary in taste, since I eat them a lot over the years.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 5:00PM
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Lpink, we purchased acorn squash direct from an organic grower this year. She told us that because of Irene and the October storm the fields were so wet the squash never had an opportunity to cure properly in the fields & recommended we not try to store much. We got a dozen squash & have lost 3 to mold. The squash are good though - not bitter at all.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 5:28PM
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