Here's a healthy PSA and time-saving tip.

By Peggy Kieran
October 01, 2020
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Mikkel Vang

Put down your peeler and take in this handy and healthy produce tip. Like nearly everyone else, we love butternut, acorn, and their winter squash kin. In fact, we love every bit of them, including the flesh, skin, and seeds. In case you didn't know, all winter squash skins are edible, full of fiber and vitamin A to boot, but whether or not you should eat the skins of every type of winter squash is its own question.

It's important to know that edible is not the same as tasty. The skins of some types of winter squash are far more palatable than others, says assistant food editor Riley Wofford. She and her test kitchen colleagues will leave the skin on delicata, acorn, and honeynuts—these three types of winter squash have thin skins that soften readily when cooked, and we advocate eating the skins of these varieties for the taste, nutrients, and for less food waste. Next time you slice a delicata into rings ready to roast, don't peel it. Looking for an easy side dish? Our Roasted Delicata Squash with Garden Herbs, shown above, is a great one to start with. Then, work your way up to eating the skin of half an acorn squash.

When it comes to squash with thicker skins—such as butternut or kabocha—our food editors say they usually peel the skin because it's tougher. Still, Riley notes that when cooked longer, those skins become more tender and may be soft enough for you to want to eat them. Also consider the size: Big squashes tend to have tough exteriors, but their pint-size versions have chewable ones. If you find miniature butternuts or kabochas, grab a few, and enjoy them in their entirety.

And don't forget about the squash seeds! Yes, we eat them, too, which makes winter squash a very cost effective food. Roast the seeds as you would pumpkin seeds and enjoy them as a healthy snack or scatter them on a salad for a crunchy topping.

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