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Butternut squash puree is the result of baking, mashing, and processing butternut squash. This often sweet and delicious puree may be added to breads, spice cakes, and sweet or savory soups. Proper baking procedures soften the squash flesh, allowing the cook to scrape it out of the shell and mash or process it further. Many cooks season butternut squash puree either during baking or right after processing to boost the flavor it adds to recipes. It may also make a nutritious homemade baby food.
Cooks should typically choose a large butternut squash free of bruises or squishy places on the rind. The skin should be smooth, firm, and a relatively uniform beige in color. Slicing the squash in half vertically should reveal bright orange flesh and a bed of seeds. A large spoon or rubber spatula works well for scooping out and discarding the seeds. If a cook likes, butternut squash seeds may be roasted just like pumpkin seeds.
The oven should be preheated to about 325°F (about 162°C) for baking butternut squash. While the oven heats, the cook can place the squash halves, cut side up, on a cookie sheet or in a casserole dish. Here, the cook may choose one of many flavoring options. Some cooks like to leave the squash unseasoned because they want a very versatile butternut squash puree. Others choose to add a few dollops of butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and some brown sugar.
More options for flavoring butternut squash puree include orange and lemon zests, salt and pepper, honey, ginger, chives, and garlic powder. Those adding powdered herbs may want to mix them into cooking oil first and drizzle them over the fleshy side of each squash half. Once seasoned, the squash should bake in the oven until the tines of a fork slip easily into the flesh. Allowing the squash to cool for about 20 minutes after baking usually prevents burned fingers.
A melon baller, large spoon, or the side of a fork all usually work well for scraping the flesh from the squash shell after cooking. The cook may transfer the softened flesh to a bowl for mashing or scrape it directly into a blender or food processor. Those using the mashing technique should typically break up the flesh with a spoon before mashing it with a fork. An immersion blender can also easily turn the mashed squash into puree.
Those using a blender or food processor must pulse the machine on high until the butternut squash puree is smooth. A rubber spatula may be necessary for scraping the mixer down from the sides of the blender or processor. Once smooth, the cook may use the butternut squash puree right away, or freeze it for future use.
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