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