Facts about zucchini

I thought I knew a thing or two about zucchini. But I had questions so I dug around and found some very interesting answers! I even discovered answers to questions I would not have thought to ask! So, in quick Q & A format, here are some fascinating facts about the very versatile zucchini:

Where will zucchini grow?

Zucchini (or courgette) will grow almost anywhere — it is a popular home-garden crop in temperate climates from northern Alberta to New Zealand!

What’s the difference between zucchini and squash?

Zucchini is a summer squash and a member of the gourd family along with winter squash, pumpkins, melons and cucumbers. Summer and winter squash belong to the species cucurbita pepo a cultivated plant of the genus Cucurbita.

Which leads me to ask…

What’s the difference between summer and winter squash?

Summer squash has thin edible skin and soft seeds, and the flesh of summer squash is tender and very perishable. Summer squash are generally harvested and eaten as immature fruit and should be used within a few days of harvesting.

Winter squash have a thick inedible skin or rind and may be stored for the winter months in a cool, dry and dark environment. Winter squash is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds have matured and the skin is tough. Note about harvesting winter squash: be sure to leave about two inches of stem attached to the fruit to prevent moisture from escaping during storage.

Is zucchini a fruit or vegetable?

zucchini

Zucchini

Botanically speaking, zucchini is a fruit (it’s actually the ovary of the zucchini flower). In the culinary context, the zucchini is generally prepared and eaten as a vegetable.

How large will zucchini get?

Zucchini can grow up to three feet in length. The smaller zucchini (4 – 5 inches) taste sweeter and harvesting the smaller young zucchinis frequently encourages fruit production.

When should I harvest zucchini?

Approximately 45 – 60 days after planting, zucchini will be ready to harvest, or about a week after flowering. Cut with a sharp knife or scissors rather than breaking them off the vine.

The best time to harvest zucchini is when the fruit is under 20 cm. (8 in.) in length. If the flowers are attached, the zucchini has not reached maturity and it is ready to pick. The younger, smaller zucchini will be slightly sweeter in flavor than larger ones.

Is zucchini an annual or perennial?

The zucchini plant is an annual, so in fall after harvest pull up the vines and compost.

How do I keep the zucchini plant under control?

zucchiniflowers

Zucchini flowers

The best way to control the zucchini plant is by harvesting the flowers – but don’t throw them away! Zucchini flowers are edible and are commonly used in salads, soups, squash-flower quesadillas and as garnish — delicious! You’ll only need to remove male flowers, but save a few for pollination.

How do I distinguish male from female flowers?

The male flowers are attached to a stem whereas the female flowers are slightly larger and attached to the fruit. Before pollination you’ll notice a tiny unfertilized squash at the base of the female flower.

Why do I want to know the difference?

Bees usually do the pollinating but if bees aren’t coming around you will have to do it!

How do I pollinate zucchini plants?

Watch the flowers closely for your window of opportunity. The blossoms will open in the morning and close by mid afternoon. The best time to pollinate is early in the day. Start the process by identifying a male flower, you’ll see pollen on its stamen. Next, pick the male flower and transfer the pollen to the female flowers by dusting or applying it directly to the stigma of the female flowers — a cotton swab works well. The stigma within the female flower is slightly sticky so the pollen will adhere to it. One male flower will have enough pollen for several females.

What is the nutritional value of zucchini?

Zucchini has approximately 15 calories per 100 grams (3.5 oz.) or 4 to 5 calories per 28 grams (1 oz.) of zucchini. Zucchini contains folate, potassium, and vitamin A; half a cup of zucchini contains nearly 20 percent of our recommended daily manganese.

How do I store zucchini?

Zucchini can be stored in the refrigerator for up to ten days. If you have more than you can possibly eat in ten days, cut off the ends, slice, cube or shred and freeze in food-grade freezer bags.

Larger zucchini are fibrous and drier in texture than the little ones, but they’re still fine to freeze and use later in baking cakes, loaves, muffins or cookies. Frozen zucchini will retain its flavor for several months.

What can I make with zucchini?

Zucchini flowerx

Zucchini flowers

Use zucchini in both sweet and savory dishes! These are just a few of the possibilities:

  • Zucchini muffins
  • Zucchini pancakes
  • Zucchini grinders
  • Balsamic grilled zucchini
  • Baked zucchini chips
  • Chocolate zucchini cake
  • Mexican zucchini cheese soup
  • Zucchini bread
  • Cream of zucchini soup
  • Chow chow relish
  • Zucchini cheese pie in a potato crust
  • Zucchini in minestrone soup
  • Ratatouille ingredient
  • Summer squash hummus
  • Baby zucchini salad
  • Beer batter fried zucchini
  • Tempura battered zucchini
  • Zucchini flower quesadillas
  • Gumbo ingredient
  • Cheesy zucchini casserole

Credits: photos wikimedia commons and some of the above facts from wikipedia. Recipes for zucchini dishes can be found at allrecipes.com

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