In this post, I will give you a few tips on how to select and cook acorn squash. Luckily selecting acorn squash is easier than some produce items, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple. Well, it is for me anyway. Even when I think I have finally mastered selecting a pineapple or watermelon, sometimes I end up with a dud.
Choosing acorn squash isn’t about big or little; it is more about how heavy it is for its size. A lighter squash means that it has lost moisture and will be drier. This is also true for a very large acorn squash.
Here Are A Few Things To Look For When Choosing Acorn Squash:
- The color of the squash should be a dull dark green with an orange mark, which I call sit marks. This means the squash has been sitting on the ground and the underside gets an orange spot. Too much orange will mean it is over ripe and could be stringy inside.
- The skin should be smooth and not have any soft spots.
- If there is a stem still attached to the squash, it should be withered and brown.
How To Cut A Squash:
- If you have a microwave, piercing the skin a couple of times with a fork and pre-cooking the whole squash on high for 3 minutes will make it much easier to cut. Let the squash sit for 2 minutes because it could be too hot to handle.
- After pre-cooking the squash, cut the bottom end just enough to set it flat. Then proceed to cut the squash in half. The flat bottom will prevent the squash from rolling.
- With a large spoon, remove the inside fibers and seeds.
I often cut a small slice off both ends of the squash, but it is not necessary.
How To Cook Acorn Squash:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease and place the squash cut side down on the paper. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the squash over, lightly salt each half, and continue baking for 20-30 minutes. Add one tablespoon of butter to the center during the last five or ten minutes of baking. Some folks like to add a little brown sugar in the center with the butter.
- Another option is to bake the squash whole for 90 minutes at 350 degrees F. Pierce the skin and place it on a lined baking sheet. After baking, cut the squash in half and scoop out the insides before serving.
- Using an Instant Pot is a popular and quicker way to cook acorn squash. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the insides. Add 1 cup of cold water to the Instant Pot, then place a trivet inside. Place cut squash halves on top of the trivet, cut side up. Sprinkle with salt and close the lid. Turn the venting knob to the sealing position. Cook a small squash at high pressure for 4 minutes, then 10 minutes Natural Release. Cook a large squash at high pressure for 6-7 minutes, then 10 minutes Natural Release. Cooking times may need adjusting depending on how tender you like your squash.
Acorn squash is an easy side dish to just about any entree, plus you can also serve a side dish inside the cooked squash halves. I have served both rice pilaf and stuffing this way.
How To Store Acorn Squash:
- Usually, acorn squash will last about 2 weeks after it is purchased.
- Cut but not cooked acorn squash can be refrigerated for up to 4 days wrapped in plastic wrap.
- Cooked acorn squash can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 4 days.
Be sure to try butternut squash too. It is popular in making warm or cool soups. Here is an easy warm butternut squash soup recipe my family enjoys, Simple Butternut & Sweet Potato Soup.
This is the Instant Pot I have. I was a little nervous using a pressure cooker at first, but it is very user-friendly.