Hokkaido and Butternut Squash: Which Pumpkin Skins Are Edible?

Photo: © StefanieB. - Fotolia.com

Pumpkins like hokkaido, winter and butternut squash are not only delicious, but also offer 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 find use in a large variety of seasonal dishes. Their preparation can seem time-consuming, though. Especially when the recipe asks you to remove the rinds and the pumpkin skin. Luckily, some pumpkin skins are edible.

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 pumpkins and squash, the two most popular for cooking are the hokkaido pumpkin (also known as the red kuri squash) and the butternut squash. Occasionally you 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.

Read More: Tired of Soup? 3 Outside the Box Pumpkin Recipes

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)
  • Season runs from 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 is indeed ripe (especially with hokkaido, butternut, and muscat varieties).
  • If kept in a cool, dark, and dry place most pumpkins will keep for months.
  • 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, it is recommended to remove the rind of certain varieties prior to cooking. With the following pumpkin and squash varieties, the skin is not too tough and cooks as quickly as the flesh.

Hokkaido Pumpkin Skin Is Edible (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 the ease in cooking, their flavor and small size, they are growing in popularity. These pumpkins are round, of medium size, 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, make it into soup, or pan fry it: The skin can be left on. Indeed, many chefs 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, mashed (similar to mashed sweet potatoes), pan-fried and added to salads, or even for desserts like pumpkin cakes and muffins.

You can find a simple and delicious recipe by Rachel Ray making use of hokkaido pumpkin skin here.

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 ubiquitous. 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 is really not necessary to do so. 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 ans 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 out DIY Pumpkin Smoothie recipe ideas and discover for yourself how to make your own simple, low-calorie substitute for pumpkin-flavored coffee drinks. It’s a more ecologically-minded choice 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 peels 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.

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

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