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How to Store and Prepare Types of Squash

Storage and preparation:

Thin-skinned varieties are fragile and relatively perishable. They quickly lose their moisture and become flabby and uninteresting. It is best to buy what you need and to prepare it as soon as possible. If you have to keep it, store unwashed squash vegetable in a perforated plastic vegetable bag in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for no longer than two to three days.

Thick-skinned types of squash keeps best at temperature of 50F to 55F. Most will last three to four months. If they must be stored at room temperature, plan to eat them with three to four weeks. They will last another week or so in the refrigerator, but do not do well for long periods at temperatures below 50F. Cut squash can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, but plan to use it as soon as possible after cutting. The same goes for any other types of squash you buy already cut and wrapped. It is best to cook precut squash within a day or two of buying it.

Thin-skinned types of squash needs to be washed, and the stem ends should be trimmed. Otherwise it is ready to eat or cut up for cooking. Tiny baby yellow squash and pattypans are ready to steam or braise whole as one of the simple vegetable recipes. These types of squash do not need to be peeled.

Thick-skinned types of squash should be peeled (although the skin is technically edible) and is generally cooked before eating. Actually, the most difficult part of preparing these squash is cutting them open. A heavy knife or sharp Japanese or Chinese cleaver will do a good job on acorn, butternut, delicata, and spaghetti squash, but some of the other very thick-skinned varieties almost need to be attacked with an ax. Try this method: once the stem has been removed and a very heavy knife can be inserted in the hole, use a rocking motion to pry an opening. Once the skin has begun to split, tap the blunt edge of the knife with a wooden mallet to break it open. Once opened, scoop out the seeds and all the fibers that cling to them. Cut the remaining squash into chunks, wedges, slices and so on.

Small whole hard-skinned types of squash, like some acorn and sweet dumpling, can be microwaved whole on high for about 2 minutes. Once removed from the microwave oven they will be easier to cut. Large squash can be softened slightly in the same way- providing you can get them in and out of the microwave. Increase the time to 3 - 4 minutes.

Hard-skinned types of squash is much easier to peel after it has been parboiled or cooked. If you want to peel it raw for a particular simple vegetable recipes recipe, hack, chop, or cut it into manageable pieces and use a very sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the skin.

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