Good day to you. How are you going? Now, some of you may know us by another name - courgette - which is what the French call us, but as you Aussies love all things Italian you like to call us zucchini, but French or Italian we’re still the same lovable vegie.
Actually, we’re a summer squash which grows on a compact bush. We’re soft, thin-skinned and sausage-shaped with rounded ends. Our skin colours range from almost black, dark green, pale green, pale green with grey, and yellow. Our flesh is soft and succulent, pale green to almost white, with many soft, small, immature seeds. We’re about 10-15cm long when harvested but, if left on the bush, we can grow rapidly to a considerable size.
We’re available all year round with our peak being from July to November.
Did you know?
• We’re sometimes called Italian squash or green squash
• Our seeds are soft and edible.
We’re sold by colour or type in Australia. Dark green to almost black types are sold as zucchinis. The yellow types are sold separately as yellow zucchinis.
Lebanese zucchinis - We’re slightly tapered, pale green with grey skin and are slightly shorter and thicker than yellow zucchini.
Why Zucchini are Good to Eat
• We’re a good source of vitamin C
• We provide dietary fibre and also some folate (one of the B complex vitamins)
• Dark green zucchini also have some beta carotene and all types provide small quantities of minerals.
• 100g has just 60kJ (for green skinned varieties) and 80 kJ for golden skinned ones.
How Zucchini are Grown and Harvested
We grow best in a warm, dry climate and most soil types. Our parent bush has large, green, lobed, prickly leaves and pale green, prickly stems.
It has yellow male and female flowers on the same bush.
We start to grow after the female flower is fertilised, and are ready for harvest in about 8 weeks. We’re harvested before we are fully grown, while still young enough to have tender, easily eaten seeds. We have a heavy labour requirement, since we need to be harvested frequently.
Select those of us with firm, glossy, tender skins that feel heavy for our size.
How to Keep Zucchini
Refrigerate us in a plastic bag. Use within 3 days.
Prime Growing Areas
History of Zucchini
We share the same ancestors as the pumpkins and squashes. We were taken to Spain from South America in the 16th century and were grown in Italy 300 years ago. Our name, zucchini, was first used in the late 19th century.
The Italian migrants brought us to Australia in the 1950’s and, since then, we have become increasingly popular.
Fun Ways to Eat and Cook Zucchini
We don’t need to be peeled and whether dark green, light green, striped or yellow we can all be used the same way. Why not use different colours in the same recipe or remove strips of peel with a vegetable peeler to make us look more interesting.
Wash and cut our ends off. Slice, dice, stuff or cook us whole. Saute, boil, steam, deep-fry, bake, microwave or barbecue but only until just cooked and still crisp, about 3-4 minutes.
Use us raw in salads or with dips or cook and serve as a vegetable, add us to soups, casseroles, pies, cakes, breads, souffles, fritters and muffins. Our flowers are sometimes available and can be stuffed and cooked.
Boil, steam or microwave 6 medium zucchini until just tender. Drain. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh. Pan-fry 2 rashers diced bacon. Drain and mix with zucchini flesh, 1/2 cup each breadcrumbs and grated tasty cheese, 1 clove minced garlic, 2 chopped medium tomatoes, skin and seeds removed, 3 finely chopped shallots and 30g melted butter. Spoon into shells and grill until golden brown.
Mix 40g wholemeal flour, 1/4 teaspoon soda with 2 lightly beaten eggs. Stir in 30g parmesan cheese, 1 pinch of salt and 300g grated zucchini. Pan-fry until golden on both sides. Serve with sour cream flavoured with horseradish.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Cream 100g butter and 1 cup castor sugar until fluffy and light. Slowly beat in 2 eggs. Sift 1 1/4 cups self-raising flour, 1/4 cup cocoa and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Add flour into butter mix with 1/4 cup milk, 1 cup grated zucchini and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Spread into greased and paper lined loaf tin and bake at 180ÌC, for 40 minutes. Icing: Beat 125g cream cheese, 1/4 cup sifted icing sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1-2 tablespoons grated orange rind.
Microwave 2 whole zucchini, until tender but still crisp, for 3-4 minutes. Cut in half lengthwise and sprinkle with grated tasty cheese. Grill until cheese melts and turns golden. Serve immediately sprinkled with chopped parsley.