You may have noticed that there are a lot of squashes at the local farmers’ market or grocery store. Squashes in all shapes and sizes have begun to appear, reminding us that we will be roasting, sautéing, and puréeing them in the coming months.
I love the squash. I love an acorn squash, a butternut squash, a delicata squash. I like a soup made with squash, a perfectly roasted squash with flaky salt, or a few butternut squash cubes on top of salad. What’s the only problem? I’m terrified to cut anything bigger than a delicata.
After getting tired of the pre-cubed, expensive, and bad for the environment squash that I buy, I decided I would consult with chefs for their best tips on how to cut squash without cutting off your finger. Spoiler alert! The sharper the blade, the better.
This article will teach you how to cut squash safely and how to handle it after the first cut.
Choose a stable surface and a long, sharp knife.
“Cut on a clean, stable surface such as a kitchen countertop,” said a data-vars-itemname=”Neil Bertucci” data-vars -itemtype=”text” data –vars –position in–subunit=”3″. “Cut the squash on a stable, clean surface, such as your kitchen counter,” said Neil Bertucci, a chef at Ingredient. To prevent your cutting board from moving, secure it to the surface using a wet paper towel or rubber mat.
It’s now time to start working with your very long and very sharp knife. It’s best to use a chef’s blade that is at least 8 inches long.
Bertucci recommends that if you are unsure of the length of your knife and do not want to use a measuring tool, make sure it is longer than your squash. It will be easier to cut the squash into two halves and to avoid the knife getting stuck inside the squash.
Bertucci suggests the “paper test” to determine if your blade is sharp enough. “Hold a piece printer paper by its edge and place your knife’s blade perpendicularly to the edge. Slice downwards through the paper.” He said that a properly sharp knife would slice through the paper without tearing it.
Cut (very carefully, of course)
Parisi suggests that you start cutting the squash by placing it on its side and then raising the knife about 3-4 inches. Could you give it a quick chop to get it going? He said to use the other hand, the one that is not holding the knife, and press down on top of the blade. Slice all the way through. It would help if you flattened it before you cut it so it doesn’t rock back and forth.
Bertucci recommends that you cut your squash with enough force, concentration, and intention for safety reasons. When cutting squash, keep the handle of the knife close to the blade. This will help you increase the force. To stabilize the squash, grasp it firmly with your nondominant hand. “When you cut, use both hands to press firmly.”
Warning: Do not cut your squash this way! It would help if you miss the squash with the cut side facing down. This will prevent it from rolling around as you slice.
If you plan to peel your squash after cutting it in half, this will be easier. If you find it difficult to peel the skin, poke it with a fork a few times and then microwave the squash in the microwave for three minutes. This will soften the skin. Let it cool down until it is safe to handle, and then peel. Bertucci says that acorn squash is particularly difficult to peel prior to cooking. After slicing the squash in half, remove the seeds and cut into wedges. You can easily remove the skin after roasting with a paring blade.”
Bertucci also recommends slicing thin pieces off the top and the bottom of the squash. This allows the squash to sit flat on the board so that it won’t roll around when you cut the next time, said Bertucci. It would help if you always lay the flat side down of the squash on the cutting surface before you make any cuts.
After your squash has been sliced, you can now scrape the seeds out. Use a spoon to scrape the seeds out. Bertucci explained that cutting the squash into smaller pieces would be easier now. Place the squash cut side down and dice it or rub in extra virgin olive oil, black pepper, and salt. Roast the two halves. Once cooked, they’ll be easier to cut!
Additional Tips to Keep in Mind
As they say, the first cut is always the deepest. Once you have safely sliced the squash in half, the battle has been won. Bertucci has a few tips for you. He said that when cutting butternut squash on its side, you should firmly grasp the squash’s neck and make a 3rd slice just above the bulb. Separating the two distinct shapes makes it easier to use your knife for peeling (which is done best after cutting the squash in half) and future cuts.