Summer Squash

This summer is the first time in a few that summer squash is missing from my garden. You hardy need a green thumb with this easy to grow plant and I have always had extreme success. It is an incredibly prolific plant – the more you pick the more it gives. Like winter squash, it is an edible gourd. Summer squash is best harvested or purchased when young, tender and under a certain length or diameter – depending upon its shape.

 

One year, after planting several zucchini plants, I found myself with more than I could ever eat or do anything with, friends and neighbors had plenty of zucchini. Planting a couple plants of each variety will yield plenty fruit, and you may still find there will be plenty to give away.

 

Varieties of Summer Squash

Three types of summer squash varieties most familiar and available at farmers markets and grocery stores:

Scallop Squash [also called Pattypan or Scallopini], Yellow Squash [crookneck or straight], and Zucchini [also called Courgette], are three types of summer squash varieties most familiar and available at farmers markets, co op’s, and grocery stores.

Nutritional Profile and Benefits of Summer Squash

Zucchini, yellow squash and scallop squash are close equals when it comes to their nutritional value. Keep the peel in tact, this is where many of the nutrients are found, so avoid peeling summer squash.

Calcium | Carbohydrates | Dietary Fiber | Manganese | Potassium | Vitamin A | Vitamin B9 [Folate-Folic Acid] | Vitamin C

Selecting and Storing Summer Squash

Look for summer squash with firm and glossy skin. Handled with care as summer squash bruises easily. Ideally, zucchini and yellow squash should be less than 6 to 8 inches in length and scallop squash should be less than 3 to 4 inches in diameter.

Refrigerate unwashed summer squash in an open or perforated bag for up to a week.

There are two ways to preserve summer squash by freezing, first wash it, then cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop away any seeds from the middle section. Rinse and make slices, cubes or grate. The second option is to freeze the squash whole. Keep in mind that freezing softens the flesh of the squash. Frozen zucchini keeps up to 4 months.

Tips for Preparing Summer Squash

Summer squash mix well with onions, tomatoes and okra in vegetable medleys. Summer squash can be used interchangeably in most recipes. Tiny baby squash can be used as appetizers.

Don’t waste male squash blossoms by leaving them in the garden. If you do not have the time or inclination to prepare them separately, toss them in the salad bowl or add to any squash preparation.

Wash and trim summer squash before using. Cut into appropriate sizes or pieces [grate, thinly slice] for your recipe.

Peel and seed any older, tougher, oversized squash. Cut squash to appropriate size when preparing your recipe.

Serving Suggestions

 

Summer squash is great raw served as a low-calorie snack, as part of a vegetable platter with an accompanying dip, tossed in salads, or stuffed.

Because of its mild flavor, it makes a nice substitute for cucumbers in some recipes.

Basil, chives, dill, marjoram, mint, and pepper are some herbs and spices well suited to enhance the mild flavor of summer squash and garlic, onions and tomatoes team well with summer squash.

Don’t forget the zucchini blossoms. Both the male and female flower blossoms are edible [the male blossom grows from the stem and the female blossom grows from the zucchini fruit]. A well-known way to serve zucchini blossoms is to stuff them. They can be used to garnish a dish or add to salads and soups.

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