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Are winter squash leaves edible?

June 28, 2009

for example, butternut squash?

Comments (18)

  • digdirt2

    Never done it but according to All About Squash "Every part of the squash plant can be eaten, including the leaves and tender shoots, which can be cooked in omelets or made into soup."


  • weirdtrev

    I have also heard that they are edible but have never tried it. It seems like a REALLY bad idea to me. Squash leaves are very irritating to the skin and anyone who has gone pumpkin picking or harvested zucchini can tell you that those leaves can really scratch you up. Putting that in my mouth would just be asking for trouble in my opinion.

  • farmerdilla

    Technically, you can eat anything that is not toxic, and even some toxic plants with special preparation. Palatability is a different story. But you can certainly eat all parts of any cucubit if they are tasty to you. Same is true of lawn grass.

  • spaghetina

    I just laughed out loud at the lawn grass, farmerdilla. So glad I wasn't drinking anything!

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

    Can't see eating the leaves, since they would be too tough; but I've eaten the vine tips at the end of the season. When the frost threatens, I pick the shoots & any small immature squash, and get several meals from them. The wife is from the Pacific islands, and squash vine tips are a vegetable there, so she has a few recipes. Bitter melon vine tips are a vegetable there too... which calls to mind the "lawn grass" comment.

  • teauteau

    I saw a cooking demonstration a couple of years by a woman of Hmong ancestry who cooked pumpkin vine tips and made a sort of soup with it. I didn't get to taste it but the woman's husband said they were very tender and tasty. I wouldn't mind trying it.

  • greenbean08_gw

    I was wondering this too, but I was curious if they'd be good as sprouts (or shoots). I had sunflower shoots on a salad at a restaurant last month and I've been sprouting seeds which has made me quite curious what kinds of seeds I should try saving for these ventures.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

  • takadi

    I've eaten "squash" leaves several times as a stir fry in the past, in fact it's one of my favorite greens to eat. Very tender, tasty, and the "prickly" stuff actually provides an interesting sensation and makes it more substantial.

    Probably was a summer squash or bitter melon leaf or vine tip. It just seems like a waste for all those leaves to go away at the end of the season, they're so big and beautiful!

  • cyrus_gardner

    I have just seen they sell squash leaves in Asian market, veggie section. As mentioned, you can eat any green that is not poisonous or toxic. The taste is another issue.
    Obviously, you do don't have to eat tough leaves but the tender ones from the tip of vine. Also, you don't have to eat them raw, but can steam or stir fry, add salt/pepper. To me summer squash (zuchinnie) have no taste. But when you fry them they will taste ok. So the leaves could not be any worse.

  • nygardener

    The tender young shoots and leaves are tasty in stir-fries.

    For the less bold, here is a recipe for a different sort of squash leaf.

  • tillerman2

    Just checked out the recipe above. I think in fact it refers to butternut squash thinly sliced and cut into leaf shapes!
    Had to read it a few times though before the 'penny dropped'.

  • llaz

    I bought a few bunches of these from a Hmong farmer in the farmers market in a nearby town. I was surprised how really delicious they are when stir fried. The little hairs cook away and the tiny immature squash and unopened blossoms really add something special. I'm wondering if there are particular varieties that are grown for this purpose. I don't think the farmer understood what I was asking.

  • mike1938

    My wife cooks them all the time. She harvests the young leaves when they are about the size of the palm of your hand (ie young leaves, not the young shoots). In Malawi (where my wife comes from), pumpkins are commonly grown amongst the maize. The leaves are sauteed with tomatoes and peanuts and eaten with nsima (cooked maize meal - a bit like a stiff polenta). We don't really have enough room for pumpkins in our garden but we always grow a couple of plants - just for the leaves. She also cooks amaranthus leaves in this way.

  • llaz

    With a little research, it turns out that the leaves, tendrils and young stems are a common vegetable in Sicily, called tenerumi. The preferred variety is tromboncino, also called cucuzza. I've been eating it a lot since I originally stumbled on it and will grow tromboncino for this purpose next year.

  • curt_grow

    I to tried a soup made from the leaves of winter squash that I bought from a Hmong woman at the farmers market. She gave me lemon grass to cook with it (you remove the grass like you would a bay leaf). Well I will try to make it again but it might take me some expermenting to get the tase where I want it. When I asked about the loss of production from taking the tips with flowers,she said that the squash simply sent out new growth and did not seem to be damaged in any way. By the way I thought that the inside of the flowers had a bitter after taste.


  • jolj

    THEY say earthworms & oak leaves are good for you, but I think I will past.
    As for squash leaves I never read they are bad & many people eat the blossoms.

  • Shule

    At least some squash varieties have edible leaves (such as Cucurbita ficifolia). I had a few Fig-leaf Gourd plants (they're not gourds). I ate the leaves and stems (raw). They taste like a mix of spinach and raw green beans. You can still eat the older leaves, but they're kind of like older broccoli in that regard (they won't chew up all the way). The large leaves taste fine, however. The seed leaves (cotyledon), however, are extremely bitter and probably toxic. Don't eat the seed leaves. If squash are bitter they're probably high in cucurbitacins, which can be toxic.

  • Shule

    So, because the seed leaves are bitter, I wouldn't make sprouts out of them.

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