Remember back in the spring, when the pictures on the vegetable seed cases looked so appetizing? You spotted the zucchini seed packets stacked tightly into display stands. How could you resist? Come fall, however, your mature plants have traveled indiscriminately all over your garden and you know you have a problem: What shall I do with all this zucchini? Neighbors and friends with no gardens immediately come to mind. What are friends for anyway?
How about learning some facts about this prolific vegetable?
- The word zucchini comes from the Italian zucchino, meaning a small squash.
- Less than 30 years ago it was often referred to as green Italian squash.
- Its popularity comes largely from its versatility as an ingredient in breads and desserts.
- The French term for zucchini is courgette, often used interchangably for yellow squash.
- The English also refer to a variety that is slightly larger and plumper as marrow.
- Archaeologists have traced the origins of summer squashes (in the family of curcurbita) to Mexico, dating back from 7,000 to 5,500 BCE, when they were an integral part of the ancient diet of maize, beans, and squashes. That pre-Columbian food trio is still the mainstay of the Mexican cuisine and is known today as the “three sisters.”
- George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were squash enthusiasts who enjoyed growing them.
- If left on the vine or bush longer, the fruit becomes enormous, the seeds larger, tougher, and sometimes inedible, and the flavor less sweet.
- Today’s farmers are developing attractive hybrids–some are round, yellow, a combination of green and yellow, and some are even across between zucchini and the fluted patty pan squash.
- With their high water content (more than 95 percent), zucchini squashes are very low in calories. (now that’s a bonus!)
- Nutritionally, zucchinis offer valuable antioxidants. They also provide some beta-carotene, trace quantities of the B vitamins, folic acid, small amounts of vitamin C and calcium, and a healthy content of potassium.
To top it off, zucchinis can be eaten raw, baked, stuffed or steamed. Recipes abound on the Internet. Now you’re ready for that abundant harvest. You’ll know what you’re talking about when you distribute them to your lucky friends and neighbors!
Information taken from: