The First Fruits of Summer
We have reached the official start of summer which means that we are beginning to enjoy fresh, delicious vegetables from our home gardens. One of the first fruits most of us harvest is zucchini.
Zucchini is a summer squash variety that was introduced to the United States from Italy. In Europe, zucchini is known as courgettes. There are green and yellow types available, though green, cylindrical zucchini are the most popular. Zucchini grow very well in well drained, sandy soils with ample organic matter. Because squash are warm season vegetables, they should not be planted until the threat of frost has passed. If growing from seed, plant seed 1 to 1.5 inches deep in rows that are 36 to 48 inches wide. When plants are established, thin to a spacing of 18 to 28 inches between plants. Fruits should be harvested when they are young and tender, about 6 to 8 inches long and around 2 inches in diameter. The zucchini should be firm, bright green and free of wrinkled skin and soft spots. Summer squash, including zucchini are very tender and do not store well. If you must store them, they can be held at 32 to 40 degrees for around 3 to 4 days at most. Harvested zucchini should be washed with cool water prior to preparation to remove any extra dirt or debris. The skins/peels are tender and may be left intact to add color and nutrients.
Zucchini is an excellent, low-calorie source of potassium, fiber and vitamin C. They can be used in many recipes, ranging from breads to grilled dishes and more. Check out this idea from our Healthy video series.