Is Pumpkin Skin Edible? Hokkaido, Butternut Squash, and More

Photo: © StefanieB. - stock.adobe.com

Pumpkins like winter squash, butternut squash, and the Hokkaido pumpkin are not only delicious but also offer great nutritional benefits. Surprisingly enough, there are quite a few varieties with edible skins. Read on to find out which pumpkin skins are edible. 

Pumpkins are a typical fall food. They are usually locally produced and can be used in a large variety of seasonal dishes. Their preparation can seem time-consuming, especially when your pumpkin recipe asks you to remove the rinds and the pumpkin skin. Luckily, some pumpkin skins are edible. You can eat butternut squash skin, for instance, and Hokkaido pumpkin skin, too.

Most pumpkin varieties are harvested in the late summer and early fall. However, since pumpkins can easily be stored for a long time, you may even find regionally harvested pumpkins until early spring at your local farmers’ market.

Although there are hundreds of different types of pumpkin and squash, among the most popular for cooking are the Hokkaido pumpkin (also known as the red Kuri squash) and the butternut squash. Occasionally you’ll come across the even bigger muscat squash in the supermarket as well. These three varieties alone offer an abundance of different cooking options. However, you’re bound to find some other exciting edible varieties at your local farmers’ market or organic grocery store.

Pumpkins: What to Look for and How Best to Store Them

Pumpkin skin store availability sale
The top pumpkin-producing states are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. Most pumpkin varieties are available for sale from late summer until Halloween. (Photo: © Utopia / Binford)
  • The season runs from the end of August until late April for locally produced and organic pumpkins.
  • Look for a rind that is in good condition. If the skin already shows more than minor imperfections, the pumpkin will spoil quickly.
  • To determine if a pumpkin is ripe, you should knock on it; if it sounds hollow, then it’s ripe (especially with Hokkaido, butternut, and muscat varieties).
  • If kept in a cool, dark, and dry place most pumpkins will keep for months. You can find more tips for storing food correctly here.
  • Once cut, pumpkins will last about one week if kept refrigerated.
  • Pumpkin slices can also be frozen for later usage: Simply wash, cut, and dry the pumpkin slices and pack them in freezer bags. This is especially useful when making pumpkin soup and pumpkin mash.

Do You Always Have to Remove Pumpkin Skin? Nope!

Technically, the skin of nearly all pumpkin and squash varieties is edible; however, some varieties’ skins are simply too tough and take too long to soften when cooking, resulting in the flesh being ready well before the skin. Therefore, we recommend removing the rind of certain varieties prior to cooking. With the following varieties, the pumpkin skin is not too tough and cooks as quickly as the flesh.

Hokkaido pumpkin skin is edible – and really tasty! (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay.com - Couleur)

Hokkaido A.K.A. Red Kuri Squash: Easy Pumpkin Skin Prep

Hokkaido pumpkins, also known as red Kuri squash, are some of the easiest pumpkins to prepare and store. Due to their ease of cooking, flavor, and small size, they are growing in popularity. These pumpkins are round, small for a pumpkin, and bright orange in color inside and out. Hokkaido pumpkin skin is perfectly edible and does not need to be removed regardless of how you want to prepare it.

Whether you roast the Hokkaido in the oven, turn it into soup, or pan fry it: The skin can be left on. Indeed, many cooks have found that doing so results in a more intense flavor and for this reason even prefer to leave the skin on.

Hokkaido pumpkins can be used for everything from soup to roast vegetables, they can be mashed (a little like sweet potatoes), pan-fried, and added to salads, or even used for desserts like pumpkin cakes and muffins.

Can You Eat Butternut Squash Skin?

Butternut squash pumpkin skins are edible
Can you eat butternut squash skin? Yes, you can! (Photo: © Utopia)

The butternut squash is popular and widely available. It has a pale pinkish-yellow skin and is pear-shaped. Its insides are a lighter orange and it has a slightly buttery taste, hence the name.

The butternut squash’s skin is edible. It is very thin but rather tough. The skin can be easily removed with a normal veggie peeler, but for most recipes, it’s really not necessary. It depends on how long the skin will be cooked, as it does take a bit longer to soften.

If you plan to roast the butternut squash, then it is probably better to remove the pumpkin’s skin, as it takes too long to soften. However, if you plan to use it to make a soup or to mash it, then the skin does not need to be removed. If you do remove the skin, it can be used to make a wonderful pan-fried vegetable dish: Simply fry it with some onions, carrots, and spices!

Here is a very simple and easy way to prepare butternut squash without peeling it first: Thekitchn.com.

Pumpkin Skin: Creative Reuse

If you’re looking to mix up your smoothie game as seasons change, have a read through our DIY Pumpkin Smoothie recipe ideas and discover how to make your own simple, low-calorie substitute for pumpkin-flavored coffee drinks. It’s more ecologically-minded to make smoothies from fruits and vegetables that are fresh from the field or tree just around the corner. Local seasonal harvest calendars can help you keep tabs on what’s available in your region at any given time.

Smoothies also offer a great way to reuse various types of leftover kitchen scraps – feel free to check out our guide on reusing vegetable scraps such as pumpkin seeds, pumpkin skin, and carrot peel in a bunch of creative ways.

Interested in learning more about reducing food waste? Check us out on social media for more tips and tricks.

This article was translated from German by Hilary. You can view the original here: Hokkaido, Butternut & Co: Welchen Kürbis kann man mit Schale essen?

Important Information regarding Health-related Topics.

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