The zucchini, or courgette, is a fast-growing variety of summer squash. Its flavour is mild, so it takes on the taste of whatever delicious sauce or stir-fry you add it to. Better yet, you can grate it and add it to baked goods, improving their moisture and introducing added nutrients, such as manganese, vitamins A and C, and dietary fiber.
Ideal growing conditions
Zucchini prefers full sun or some shade. To prepare a site for it, dig a hole about a foot across and a foot deep, and fill it with mature compost so that it forms a slight mound. After all danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed, plant a few seeds an inch deep and a few inches apart in the mound. There are two main types of zucchini plants–bush and vine. Vine zucchini mounds should be a few feet apart; bush plants can grow closer together.
Zucchinis need consistent moisture, so ensure that they are well watered until the plant begins to produce fruits. They have distinct male and female flowers, and are pollinated by insects. Zucchini fruits generally grow quite quickly in succession.
As mentioned above, there are two types of plants–bush and vine. The colour of the skin may vary from dark green to gold; some varieties are striped or patterned.
Harvesting, using, and preserving
Harvest zucchinis when they are 4-8 inches long and about two inches in diameter. If they grow too big, don’t worry–the larger specimens are ideal for grating and adding to bakes goods (core them before grating them if the seeds are too coarse).
Avoid the temptation to break these tender fruits off the plant; they may break or bruise. Instead, cut them off with a sharp knife.
Before freezing zucchini, you can slice and blanch it, or simply grate it. It can be used fresh in a variety of sauces and dishes, and grilled on the BBQ. There are many ways to preserve it, such as in zucchini relishes and even zucchini marmalade!
- The flowers of the zucchini are often sautéed or stuffed. They also make pretty and edible garnishes.
- Zucchinis have more potassium than bananas, and just 25 calories.
- The largest zucchini on record was 69 1/2 inches long and 65 lbs in weight!