Cutting squash and pumpkin

tracydr(9b)October 5, 2010

I plan on getting a bunch of pumpkins and squash to freeze in chunks and pur�e. I always dread cutting and peeling them as it seems I can never get the knife through the tick skins. What kind of knives and method should I be using to prep them?

We would eat a lot more squash and pumpkin if I could only learn how to cut them up without chopping a finger off or breaking a knife!

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I love pumpkin season! Cut my knuckle open to the bone one year trying to break into one, though. Ever since then, for the big tough ones like Hubbard, I just toss 'em off the front stoop onto the sidewalk until they bust. Safer, easier, and considerably more fun than using a knife!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 1:17PM
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I have a 26" long machete that I picked up years ago, and I keep it sharp, clean, and oiled with vegetable oil, safe in a leather scabbard on the top of the cupboards. I think of it as one big carving knife, and I can use one hand on the handle and the other pressing down on the dull edge of the tip.

But those tough hubbards, I'd break them up by dropping them on some concrete porch as well.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 2:06PM
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I have good luck with a cheap orange-handled pumpkin carving knife from the Halloween display at the grocery store. It lets me saw pumpkins as well as butternut and acorn squash in half. Then it's no problem to use a chef's knife to cut smaller sections and slice off the rind.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 2:38PM
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How about an axe? (j/k - but I bet it would work quite well!) A woman at the farmers market told me that someone told her to microwave the squash for a bit before cutting. I guess it softens it slightly, so it is easier to cut. I haven't tried it because I do not have a microwave - but might be worth checking into. I would think you might need to pierce with a fork first - but who knows! Maybe google it????

I like the tossing them on concrete until they break - Im gonna try that one!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 5:15PM
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A full sized Hubbard is gonna need a pretty big microwave......

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 7:25PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Is Mega Microwave an oxymoron?!?!?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 7:27PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

My DH's family used an ax for the really big specimens. We use a machete, but I have to admit I turn that job over to him. I'd probably cut off a leg.


    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 10:28PM
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dogear6(7 / Richmond VA)

I will not cut raw squash or pumpkins because of the risk of a knife slipping. I bake my squash for 45 minutes, then cut. I put the cut side down and roast until soft. Once it cools, I scoop it out and freeze it.

It does thaw watery; I let it sit in a colander for a few minutes and drain off the excess, which makes it a good texture for eating.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 4:00PM
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If you are going to freeze it anyway - why not make puree and freeze that?

I wash my squash good, cut it in half and remove the seeds.

Then I put it on the rack in my big electric roaster with some water and let it steam. I layer them in there and fill it right to the top. Once it is soft, I scoop the pulp out of the rind and blenderize it to make it smooth, and toss it in bags and put it in the freezer. It's great heated up with a bit of butter, or use in pies or breads, pancakes, and muffins. Last year I had so much squash that I tried a whole bunch of new recipes - my coworkers didn't mine taste testing all the goodies.

When I have big hubbards, I drop them on the concrete floor in the basement to break them up. I don't even try cutting them when they are whole.

I wanted to can squash, but I don't because I refuse to peel it.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 5:44PM
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If you peeled and chunked your squash and froze it in cubes already, would you roast them before using them in a puree for a recipe or just drain them and puree them raw?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 9:42PM
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busylizzy(z5 PA)

Been known to run over to the neighbors band saw, that works.
Think this year I will use the toss on concrete, more fun, less travel

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 10:36PM
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Band saw sounds good. I'll have to get one of those pumpkin carver knives and try it. Machete and axe sound scary!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 1:58PM
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All this squash talk made me crazy for some. Used to grow hubbard and acorn when I was a kid, but live in a woods now and don't have enough sunlight.

Local market sells a lot of locally grown produce. Some organic (from a Mennonite colony) and some not. Went there on Tue and bought a sensible pair of 5# butternut squash. Went home and all I could think about was the huge display of pumpkins and squash. Went back yesterday to take a video: Sorry about the quality. My next camera will have image stabilization.

Just had to buy this ugly pumpkin: Not exactly sure what this variety (Cinderella?) is, but had to have it: And this one was totally ridiculous. Only bought because was big and cheap. It may be an atypical Rumbo:

The last one will be donated to a local shelter, but really curious about the first two. Never made a squash or pumpkin burrito before and will be searching for ideas. Don't laugh... made hot apple pie burritos once and they were fantastic. Always did like cheese on my apple pie and a little heat makes even better. A pumpkin pie burrito sounds pretty easy. What I really love is baked squash with a lot of butter etc, so I'll probably be cutting into cubes and baking before rolling into burritos or just vac sealing for the freezer.

What I like about squash and pumpkins is that there is no hurry as to what to do with them. My basement mostly stays in the 60s year-round so good place to store veggies and canned goods.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 12:02PM
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Drywall saw.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 3:14PM
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zeuspaul(9b SoCal)

I stopped growing all winter squash except for Buttercup because my better half can cut it without my help. And luckily it is one of the best tasting.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 4:50PM
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I only grow Butternut these days because it's not susceptible to the borers and because it can be peeled. With the right peeler.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 5:37PM
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John, love the video. In SW FL we can only dream of having such a variety of pumpkins/gourds at this time of year. I think the warty pumpkin is a Galeux d'Eysines.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 9:06AM
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I think you are right!

And don't you just hate it when the names of things are changed around for marketing purposes. Really hate it when done to tomato or pepper varieties.

Was just looking at that pumpkin and noticed it has a mold problem. Will have to find out what to do abt it.

I chunked up a butternut yesterday and it was easy to remove the rind with just a knife. I have more kinds of saws than your average gardener. Several chainsaws, band saw, table saw etc etc. And I think just a regular hand saw would work and be easy to clean up. Maybe a rip blade rather than a crosscut. Have a little electric saber saw with interchangeable blades that might work too.


Here is a link that might be useful: galeux-d-eysines-pumpkin image search

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 9:31AM
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> ltilton writes: "Drywall saw"

I think so too. Been looking at saws and this one looks just right to me...

Will make a good sapling and limb saw too for out in my jungle. 15" blade with an aggressive cut. Under $9 Soap and water cleanup, but not sure what to put on it after that to protect from rust. Silicone spray maybe.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 11:38AM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

Pumpkin burritos? Sounds good to me.

It's traditional to make fruit tamales, and I would guess that a person could come up with some dandy pumpkin tamale recipes.

Pumpkin is good sweet and it is also excellent in a red chile with cumin (beef, if you aren't vegetarian.) So you could have both sweet and savory pumpkin tamales.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 2:51PM
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The drywall saw I use has a more pointed end than the one in your photo, and a narrower blade. Easier to get a cut started that way. Excellent for jack-o-lantern carving.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 3:20PM
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I like the drywall saw idea. I need to go to home depot for a few things anyway.
I'll get a bunch of small pumpkins and squash right after Halloween when they go on sale.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 4:14PM
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I don't speak French, I've seen those warty pumpkins advertised as "peanut" pumpkins.

What would you use to cut quince? I *might* have a relatively clean drywall saw - I don't want to ruin my Santoko.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 8:32PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Later today, I hope to try and cut a large blueish pumpkin (18 LB), and try and get it identified, and then will probably try and process it. That sort of depends upon its identity. Once I get pics, I'll post them to a new thread. I'm going to 'try' and cut it with an electric knife. Has anyone tried that?

I'll report back on how it goes. Processing pumpkin/squash is entirely new to me.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 11:28AM
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The drywall saw worked like a charm! Unfortunately, I waited too long to use it on the Uncle Fester pumpkin...

Beautiful orange flesh, but a nasty black mold on the inside of the top (stem) side.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 1:40PM
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Can you still use the rest of it? Or is it all squashy?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 11:55AM
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> Can you still use the rest of it? Or is it all squashy?

Wasn't sure if was safe so I tossed it out. It was tempting to cut the bottom halves off and use because the flesh was firm and smelled wonderful. My intent was to pressure can 1" cubes & I would not have used for canning. Only thought about baking some just to see how it tasted.
Washed the saw and moved on to a 32 lb squash (not sure of the name) and ended up with 20 lbs 11 oz of 1" thick slices.

Does anyone else love those 2 1/2 gal Hefty Jumbo ziplocs!! I use them to sort much of my vac-sealed burritos etc in the freezer. Really happy with how the saw worked and used a butcher knife to remove the extremely hard rind (shell?).


    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 2:28PM
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