Eating squash skin is generally considered safe and healthy for most people. The edible skins of winter squashes like delicata contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Leaving the peel on provides extra nutrition and texture.
Is delicata squash skin edible?
Yes, delicata squash skin is edible. The peel of delicata squash is thin, tender and easy to chew once cooked. It has a delicate, sweet and nutty flavor. Some people prefer to peel delicata squash, but leaving the skin on is an excellent way to add nutrients and texture to dishes.
Does delicata squash skin have nutritional value?
Delicata squash skin contains a significant amount of the vegetable’s overall nutrition. Leaving the peel provides extra fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and other beneficial plant compounds.
For example, one cup of cooked delicata squash with the peel provides:
- 3 grams dietary fiber (11% DV)
- 14,185 IU vitamin A (283% DV)
- 19.5 mg vitamin C (21% DV)
- 494 mg potassium (11% DV)
In contrast, one cup of cooked, peeled delicata squash contains:
- 2 grams dietary fiber (8% DV)
- 8,126 IU vitamin A (162% DV)
- 10.8 mg vitamin C (12% DV)
- 448 mg potassium (10% DV)
As you can see, keeping the peel provides significantly more vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber. Potassium levels are also increased.
Delicata squash skin is a good source of fiber. The peel contains insoluble fiber that adds bulk to stools and helps promote regularity. It also contains some soluble fiber that helps slow digestion and control blood sugar.
The skin makes up around 30–40% of the total fiber content in delicata squash. Leaving the peel on provides an easy way to increase your daily fiber intake.
Delicata squash skin is very high in provitamin A carotenoids like beta-carotene. These antioxidants give the peel its yellow-orange color. Your body converts beta-carotene into active vitamin A.
Vitamin A supports eye health, immune function and cell growth. Consuming winter squash skin is an easy way to increase your vitamin A intake.
The peel of delicata squash provides a significant amount of vitamin C. This essential nutrient acts as an antioxidant and plays a role in immune health, collagen production, iron absorption and brain function.
Eating the skin of a medium, cooked delicata squash nearly doubles its vitamin C content.
Delicata squash skin also contains small amounts of B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin.
Though delicata skin is low in fat and calories, the peel does contain a slightly higher concentration of fat-soluble compounds like vitamin E, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene compared to the flesh.
In addition to specific antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and carotenoids, winter squash skin contains beneficial plant compounds known as polyphenols. These act as antioxidants to help neutralize harmful free radicals and reduce inflammation.
Certain polyphenols may also help lower blood pressure, improve blood sugar control and support gut and heart health.
Is eating delicata squash skin safe?
For most people, consuming delicata squash skin is perfectly safe. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Pesticides: To limit exposure to pesticides, choose organic delicata squash whenever possible or thoroughly scrub and peel conventionally grown squash.
- Oral allergy syndrome: Those with raw food allergies may react to raw winter squash skin. Fully cook the squash to denature the proteins.
- Digestive issues: Some find raw squash skin irritating to the digestive tract. Peeling or cooking the squash helps reduce this effect.
As long as you tolerate cooked squash well, eating delicata skin should not pose any issues.
Is delicata squash skin hard to digest?
The skin of delicata squash contains insoluble fiber that adds bulk and could cause digestive issues if consumed raw. However, cooking softens up and breaks down the fiber in squash skin, making it easy to digest.
Unless you have an underlying gut condition like IBS, the skin of properly cooked delicata squash should not be difficult to digest. Just be sure to cook the squash until tender.
How to cook delicata squash skin
Delicata squash skin can be cooked and eaten several ways, such as:
- Roasting: Cut delicata squash into wedges, drizzle with oil and roast cut-side down at 400°F (200°C) until tender.
- Sautéing: Dice up raw squash with skin on. Sauté over medium-high heat in olive oil until fork-tender.
- Boiling: Add 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes of squash with skin to boiling water. Cook until easily pierced with a fork.
- Baking: Place halved and seeded squash cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 45–60 minutes.
- Grilling: Brush delicata halves with oil and grill cut-side down over medium heat until charred and cooked through.
Aim to cook the squash until completely tender and easily pierced with a fork. This softens the skin and brings out its sweetness.
Tips for eating delicata squash skin
Here are some tips for enjoying delicata squash skin:
- Add texture: Keep skin on for roasted veggies, soups or purées. It adds color, fiber and texture.
- Boost nutrition: Leave the peel on baked, sautéed or grilled squash to maximize nutrition.
- Try stuffing: Use delicata “boats” with skin on as edible vessels for stuffings and fillings.
- Remove if preferred: Feel free to peel your squash if you don’t like the texture or appearance of the skin.
- Scrub well: For conventionally grown squash, use a veggie brush under running water to remove dirt and residue.
Delicata squash skin uses
Delicata squash skin can be consumed along with the flesh in many dishes, such as:
- Roasted delicata fries or wedges
- Sautéed delicata squash salad
- Delicata squash soup
- Stuffed roasted delicata boats
- Puréed winter squash soup
- Roasted delicata and Brussels sprouts
- Delicata squash lasagna rolls
- Farro risotto with delicata and sage
The skin can be left on no matter how you decide to cook the squash. Just be sure to cook it long enough until tender.
Should you peel delicata squash before cooking?
It’s generally not necessary to peel delicata squash, though you certainly can if you prefer. Peeling removes some of the nutrition, fiber and texture that the skin provides.
However, there are a few instances when peeling before cooking may be beneficial:
- If using conventionally grown delicata squash that hasn’t been thoroughly washed
- If your digestive system doesn’t tolerate skins well
- If eating the squash raw in dishes like carpaccio or salad
- If desiring a softer, silkier texture in dishes like soup
- If looking to control the color of a recipe
Otherwise, leaving the nutritious, edible skin on is an easy way to maximize nutrients.
Does delicata squash skin taste good?
Yes, when cooked, delicata squash skin has a sweet, nutty flavor that complements the tender, edible flesh. The peel provides texture and enhances the natural sugars.
Delicata is considered one of the best winter squashes to eat with the skin on. Once cooked, the thin peel softens up nicely and is not tough or hard to chew like the skin of acorn squash or pumpkins.
Is it better to peel delicata squash?
It’s ultimately a personal choice whether to peel delicata squash. Leaving the skin on provides more fiber, nutrients and texture. However, peeling may be preferred if you don’t like the texture of skins or are looking for a silky smooth puree.
If you do peel delicata squash, try to retain some of the flesh just under the skin, as this is where many of the nutrients are concentrated. Also consider roasting the skins as a snack once the flesh has been removed.
Can you eat delicata squash skin raw?
Delicata squash skin can be eaten raw, though it’s often better tolerated cooked. If enjoying raw, first wash the skin thoroughly. Then slice the squash thinly and add to salads or carpaccio.
Those with oral allergy syndrome may react to raw delicata skin but tolerate it cooked. Cooking helps reduce compounds that provoke reactions.
Is delicata squash skin keto-friendly?
Delicata squash skin can be part of a keto-friendly diet. A 1-cup serving of cooked delicata squash with the peel contains 10 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber. This provides about 8 grams of net carbs.
Though not extremely low carb, delicata squash has a lower glycemic index than other winter squashes. It has minimal impact on blood sugar. The fiber in the skin helps slow the absorption of sugars even further.
Enjoy delicata squash skin in moderation as part of a low carb meal plan.
Does roasted delicata squash skin get crispy?
Yes, roasting delicata squash wedges or spears at a high temperature helps transform the skin into a crispy texture. To achieve crispy roasted delicata skins:
- Cut delicata into wedges, slices or fries. Leave the skin on.
- Toss the squash pieces in olive oil, salt and spices.
- Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Roast at 425–450°F (220–230°C) for 25–35 minutes, flipping halfway.
The high heat helps drive moisture from the squash while crisping up and caramelizing the skin.
Can you eat delicata squash skins after roasting?
Yes, the skins of roasted delicata squash are edible and delicious. Roasting helps soften and bring out the natural sweetness of the skin.
Try chopping up roasted delicata squash, skin and all, to add to grain bowls, tacos, pastas, soups and more. You can also keep delicata wedges whole for a side dish.
What’s the best way to cook delicata squash to leave skin on?
Some of the best ways to cook delicata squash while keeping the skin on include:
- Roasting: This caramelizes the skin nicely.
- Sautéing: Cooking over medium-high heat softens the skin.
- Baking: Keeping the skin provides texture and traps moisture.
- Grilling: The skin protects the flesh and provides great char.
- Boiling: Submerging in boiling water evenly cooks the entire squash.
Aim to cook all varieties thoroughly until the flesh and skin are both very tender. This helps the texture of the skin become enjoyable to eat.
What are the risks of eating delicata squash skin?
There are minimal risks associated with consuming delicata squash skin for most people. However, some things to keep in mind include:
- Pesticides: Peel and thoroughly wash conventionally grown squash to minimize chemical residues.
- Allergies: Those with OAS may react to raw squash skin. Fully cook the squash.
- Digestive issues: Some people may experience gas or bloating from the fiber-rich skin.
- Contaminants: Wash well and peel if you suspect the outside surface may be contaminated.
As long as the squash skin is cleaned and cooked properly, it is perfectly safe for most people to eat.
Is delicata squash skin unhealthy?
No, delicata squash skin can be a very healthy part of your diet. The skin provides extra fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Compared to other winter squashes, delicata skins are thin, tender and contain less of the compound cucurbitacin that can cause digestive irritation.
The skin also has a lower pesticide residue risk compared to other produce. Enjoying delicata skin supports gut health, immunity, eye health and more.
Does cooking delicata squash skin soften it?
Yes, cooking delicata squash helps soften and tenderize the edible peel. Delicata skins are thin, but high heat helps transform the texture into something enjoyable to eat.
Roasting, grilling, baking or sautéing delicata squash allows moisture to cook out of the skin while the natural sugars caramelize.
Boiling and stewing also softens the skin nicely. Slow cooking methods like braising break down fibers and collagen.
Is delicata squash skin difficult to digest?
Most people do not have a problem digesting delicata squash skin, especially when it’s cooked properly. However, some digestion tips include:
- Cook thoroughly until very tender to soften the skin’s fiber.
- Start slow if delicata skin gives you gas or stomach pain.
- Peel the skin if it causes persistent digestive distress.
- Take a digestive enzyme to help break down the fiber.
Unless you have an underlying gut issue, well-cooked delicata skin should not be difficult to digest. Focus on proper preparation methods.
Delicata squash skin is not only edible, but very nutritious and flavorful. Leaving the peel on adds fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your diet. The skin also provides great texture.
Cooking delicata squash helps soften the edible peel. Focus on enjoying the skin in tender, well-cooked dishes. Roast, sauté, bake or braise the squash until completely tender.
Eating winter squash skin like delicata is generally safe and healthy. However, take care to wash conventionally grown varieties well and peel if you have an oral allergy.
When preparing delicata squash, consider leaving the nutritious, tasty skin on to maximize nutrition and enjoy this vegetable to its full potential.