Season for Zucchini April – August

Zucchini Described

Zucchini – a ratatouille staple and dieter’s delight – is the most abundant of summer squashes, prized for its tender, succulent flesh and delicate flavor. Other summer squashes include pattypan, yellow crookneck, Gold Bar, Eight Ball, and Tatuma – all infinitely less ubiquitous varieties, yet similar in taste and texture to their popular zucchini cousin. Though widely regarded as a vegetable, zucchini is actually botanically an immature fruit of Cucurbito pepo, a species that also includes melons, cucumbers and many other varieties of pumpkins and winter squash. It resembles a cucumber in size and shape with smooth, thin skin that is either green or yellow in color and can sometimes be gracefully striped or speckled with tender, creamy-colored flesh. 

How to Buy and Store Zucchini

When shopping for the best zucchinis, select specimens that are small to medium in size with skin that is vivid in color and shines bright. Although you may be drawn to the super large zucchinis, try to avoid them, for they tend to have numerous seeds and drier, sometimes bitter flesh. Also, avoid those that are wrinkled with bruises or soft spots. To test for ripeness, make sure your zucchini’s skin is tender enough to pierce with a fingernail. When you get your zucchinis home, store them unwashed and wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

How to Cook Zucchini

To start off, wash and trim the top and tail of your zucchini. Peeling zucchini is blasphemy: The skin is tender and full of healthful properties. Zucchini can be eaten raw, making a great pasta alternative when thinly shredded or addition to a crudite platter. It’s also quick and easy to cook; sliced lengthwise and grilled, zucchini takes on a meaty and juicy deliciousness that goes great between two slices of bread. Their versatililty extends to all cooking methods, whether broiled, sautéed, steamed, roasted or fried. You can also add zucchini to your favorite muffin or bread recipe. Or even add them to cupcakes! For more on that, check out 5 Vegetables to Bake in Your Cupcake.

Health Benefits of Zucchini

We mentioned zucchinis are a dieter’s dream. Owing to their high water content weighing in at over 95%, zucchinis contain a very low amount of calories (less than 20 per cup!). But in the meantime, they don’t skimp on nurtrition. Their skin is an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoid pigments that help protect against cataracts and other eye disorders. The folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene content found in zucchini have been found to combine to protect the body from colon cancer – among other ailments.  

Why Buy Natural and Organic Zucchini

What’s On My Food reports that the USDA Pesticide Data Program found 41 pesticide residues on zucchinis, many of which are known to be harmful to your health and that of the planet. And since we love the skin of a zucchini (besides, peeling is never fool proof), especially because it’s so healthful, we say, purchase zucchinis organically. That way, you avoid nasty chemicals and support farmers who make sustainability a priority. Plus, organic just tastes better, doesn’t it?  

image: nociveglia