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What is Zucchini?

There are many named varieties of zucchini. Fruits of this member of the Italian marrow squashes grow most commonly in cylindrical shapes, but also in round and intermediate shapes. Zucchini's
color varies from a green so dark as to be near black, to lighter shades of green both with and without stripes, all the way to tones of yellow. Many are highlighted with various degrees of speckling.

Farmers' markets are the best source of the freshest squashes and frequently offer unique varieties as well as those organically grown.

Zucchini is easy to grow. It is an excellent plant to pick for a children's garden or a childs growing project.  It is a warm season vegetable easily injured by frost and freezes. Plant seeds directly in the garden, or use container transplants. For a childrens garden, plant the seeds indoors until they can be moved outside to the garden.  Space plants 24 inches apart (or closer if space is limited) on 36-48 inch wide beds. Hill planting is also feasible. Four to six plants will feed an average size family in any one growing season. Fertilize as for other garden vegetables.

With their high water content (more than 95 percent), zucchini squashes are very low in calories. There are only 13 calories in a half-cup of raw zucchini, with a slight increase to 18 calories in the same quantity cooked. Nutritionally, zucchinis offer valuable antioxidants. Zucchini is a good source of Vitamins A and C, Potassium, and is low in calories making it an excellent choice for dieters.

Zucchini is a good source of fiber with 4 grams per cup. Be sure to include the peel to get all the fiber. Adults should get 20-30 grams of dietary fiber from their daily diet.


Equivalents:

  • 1 pound zucchini = 3-4 servings
  • 1 pound zucchini = about 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 pound zucchini = 2-1/2 cups chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini = 1 cup sliced zucchini
  • Just remember, overcook zucchini and you end up with mush. There is no way to salvage it other than to make soup.


Zuchinni Tips: 

 

  • Store fresh picked or purchased zucchini in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week for best quality. Be sure the zucchini is dry when you put it in the bag as moisture will encourage mold and spoilage.
  • Zucchini is best if cooked when fresh and small as it will have more moisture. Steaming produces the crispest, least soggy vegetable. If using zucchini in a casserole recipe, it may be parboiled or steamed to remove some of the moisture. Or make allowances of the amount of moisture to avoid having an extra, runny result!
  • Experiment with herbs with zucchini—it needs them! Or add flavor with onion, garlic, cheese or tomatoes!


Freezing Zucchini:

  • Shred unpleeled zucchini, drain in a colander and then pat dry with papper towel, apply pressure.
  • Remove as much moisture as possible to prevent zucchini from getting soggy when frozen.
  • Place 1 or 2 cups of zucchini in freezer bags and seal tightly.
  • Should last for 3-4 months.
 

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