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Zucchini

The zucchini is a summer squash and it is a fruit, botanically. However, they are typically treated as a vegetable in cooking. Farmers harvest the fruit of the zucchini when the seeds and the rind or epicarp are still immature because this is when it is still edible. Zucchini is ready for harvest when they are about 6 to 10 inches long and feels soft or tender. Zucchini is usually green, although the golden zucchini is yellow.

Classification Information:
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Cucurbita
Species: C. pepo
Binomial name: Cucurbita pepo

Zucchini Trivia

  • We know what berries are (blueberry, blackberry, etc.), but we can’t imagine a zucchini as a berry although botanically, the fruit of the zucchini plant is a berry!
  • If there is a flower attached to the zucchini fruit, that is a good way to tell that the fruit is fresh, immature, and ripe for picking.
  • A popular dish that uses zucchini is the French dish ratatouille, popularized by the animated movie of the same name.
  • Zucchini was voted Britain’s 10th favorite culinary vegetable in a 2005 poll.

Zucchini Buying Guide

Here are the things to look out for when buying zucchinis in the market. First is the size: the ideal choice would be smaller zucchinis simply because it becomes more bitter the bigger the zucchini gets. If you have a choice, avoid overly-large zucchinis, unless you are after the bitter taste. Another thing to look out for is the condition of the skin. Choose one without blemishes, spots, or any marks that suggest that the zucchini is not fresh and the quality is compromised.

Zucchini Production & Farming in Texas

Zucchini can grow in the U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 9. This means it can grow anywhere in Texas. The hardiness zone spectrum covering Texas ranges from 6 to 9B. Zucchini will do well if you plant it in soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. It prefers full sun. Plant after the danger of frost has passed.

If you are planting zucchinis, consider the space available to you. There are vining varieties that require trellises. There are also bush types that you can grow in containers.

Pesticides

Without pest control measures, zucchini plants are vulnerable to pests. The use of pesticides is necessary if pest problems persist or worsen.

  • Aphids – Kill aphids using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. You can also use the pesticide malathion, which is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the United States, or rotenone, a selective, non-specific insecticide typically used in home gardens for insect control.
  • Cucumber Beetles – The use of man-made pesticide carbaryl or Beauveria bassiana is the solution to rid of flea beetles.
  • Cutworms – Pesticides such as carbaryl will kill cutworms attacking your spearmint. Pyrethroid insecticides like cyfluthrin and the insecticide permethrin are also useful for this purpose.
  • Leafminers – Use spinosad against leafminers.
  • Spider mites – To get rid of spider mites, use neem oil and apply it through foliar spraying. It contains azadirachtin which is effective against spider mites. You can also use horticultural oil (which also targets aphids and thrips). Pests die after exposure to horticultural oil due to suffocation since the oil blocks the spiracles through which insects breathe. Another effect of horticultural oils is disrupting the metabolism of insect eggs. Lastly, horticultural oils disrupt the insect’s ability to feed. As a result, the insect starves to death. Using pyrethrin spray is also an effective method against spider mites. Another option is spinosad, a mixture of two chemicals called spinosyn A and spinosyn D typically used to control a wide variety of pests.
  • Squash bugs – The use of man-made pesticide carbaryl is the solution to rid of squash bugs.
  • Squash vine borers – Use man-made pesticide carbaryl, broad-spectrum, pyrethroid-based insecticides like permethrin, or the pyrethroid insecticide bifenthrin to rid your acorn squash of vine borers.
  • Thrips – To kill thrips, there is a wide array of options to choose from: horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, anti-parasite spray spinosad, or pyrethrin pesticides with piperonyl butoxide.

Geography

The zucchini descended from Mesoamerican squashes 7,000 years ago. However, the zucchini we now have traces its origin in Milan, Italy, where it was bred during the 19th century. Zucchini was cultivated in the US starting in the 1920s. Historians believe growing zucchinis in the US began in California, brought there by Italian immigrants.

Packaging

Common to fruits and vegetables of the same size or larger, zucchinis are usually sold without any type of packaging, primarily because their thick skin and rind already provide it with a layer of protection, keeping the flesh inside safe from any potential contamination while out on display.

Enjoying Zucchinis

People all over the world eat zucchini. The flesh of the fruit of the zucchini plant tastes sweet. Zucchini is a very nutritious food but medical professionals warn consumers: when eating zucchini, medical professionals warn about the toxin cucurbitacin. While those commercially grown have low cucurbitacin, there are still many circumstances that could result in exposure to high and dangerous levels of cucurbitacin. This threat is important especially for those who cannot detect bitterness in food since they are more vulnerable to eating very bitter zucchini which indicates the presence of a high level of cucurbitacin.

Storage

If you are cooking the zucchini, do not cut it before storing it in the refrigerator. Keep it whole. Make sure you store it dry. Put it inside a plastic or paper bag and keep the bag open for circulation since this will help preserve the zucchini. The best place to store zucchini is in the refrigerator’s crisp drawer. Zucchini will keep for 1 to 2 weeks.

Cooking:

People all around the world have tried cooking zucchini in many different ways. There’s fried zucchini in Bulgaria, zucchini with tomato sauce, garlic, and onions in Egypt, and fried or stewed zucchini in Greece. There’s mücver or zucchini pancakes in Turkey. Zucchini is ubiquitous in Italy: baked, boiled, fried, among others. Zucchini is a popular ingredient in Latin American and Middle Eastern cuisine also. There’s zucchini coated in flour, baked, and served with sour cream in Russia and neighboring countries like Ukraine.

It is not ideal or common to eat zucchini raw, although if eaten raw, zucchini is best sliced or shredded when making a cold salad. Zucchini is usually cooked. Zucchinis are good baked, steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed, baked, barbecued, or fried. Thai and Vietnamese hot salad recipes include zucchini. A lot of food we commonly see daily is made from or with zucchini like zucchini bread. It great if you cook it using either butter or olive oil. It tastes great with many different herbs. Use a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles and use it as a low-carbohydrate substitute when making spaghetti.

Nutritional Benefits:
Zucchini is a very healthy food. It has calories, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, copper, phosphorus, and thiamine. Zucchini is good for our eyes, skin, and heart because it contains antioxidants. Eating zucchinis also help improve our digestion, lowers our blood sugar levels, and helps us lose weight.

When Are Zucchini in Season in Texas?

To find out when Zucchini are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.

Nutrition

DV%

  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 19.8 1%
  • Carbs: 4.2g 1%
  • Sugar: 2.1g
  • Fiber: 1.4g 5%
  • Protein: 1.5g 3%
  • Fat: 0.2g 0%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 11.8mg 0%
  • Vitamin C 20.1mg 33%
  • Vitamin A 236IU 5%
  • Calcium 17.7mg 2%
  • Iron 0.4mg 2%
  • Potassium 309mg 9%
  • Vitamin E 0.1mg 1%
  • Vitamin K 5.1mcg 6%
  • Vitamin B6 0.3mg 13%
  • Folate 34.2mcg 9%
  • Magnesium 20.1mg 5%
  • Phosphorus 44.8mg 4%
  • Zinc 0.3mg 2%

Seasonality

When are Zucchini in season in Texas?

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec

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Tasty Recipes Using Zucchini