- The History of Zucchini (Courgettes)
- 6 Things You Should Know About Zucchini
- First, how many calories are in zucchini?
- You can eat the blossoms
- Zucchini may be good for your heart
- You can substitute it for pasta
- It’s not always green
- It has an international pedigree
- Zucchini Plants Flowering But Not Producing Fruit
- Zucchini Not Producing
- Zucchini Fruit Fall Off The Plant Before They Are Full Grown
- What Causes Zucchini Fruit to Fall Off the Plant?
- How Do I Fix Zucchini Fruit Falling Off the Plant Prematurely?
The History of Zucchini
| When did zucchini first appear?
When European explorers came to the America’s squash was one of the 3 major foods the native Indians used, along with beans and corn. They had never seen them before so they thought they were melons.
Squash seeds have been found in Archeological digs in Mexico, that date back to between 9000 and 4000 B.C.
Columbus brought squash seeds back to Europe in his explorations.
The Zucchini as we know it however wasn’t used in this form probably until the late 1800’s, In Italy probably near Milan, because many of the early varieties are named after nearby cities.
We normally pick a Zucchini when it is young about 8 inches (20 cm ) or less.
Different varieties of zucchini,
In Mexico they prefer the flower to the zucchini bulb. they use them in soups and quesidellas
In Italy, zucchini are served in a variety of ways, especially breaded and pan-fried. Some restaurants in Rome specialize in deep-frying the flowers, known as fiori di zucca.
In France zucchini is a key ingredient in ratatouille, a stew of summer fruits and vegetables prepared in olive oil and cooked for an extended time over low heat. The dish, originating near present-day Nice, is served as a side dish or on its own at lunch with bread. Zucchini are stuffed with meat with other fruits like tomatoes or bell peppers in a dish named courgette farcie (stuffed zucchini).
In Turkish cuisine, zucchini is the main ingredient in the popular dish mücver , or “zucchini pancakes”, made from shredded zucchini, flour and eggs, lightly fried in olive oil and eaten with yogurt.
In the Levant, zucchini is stuffed with minced meat and rice plus herbs and spices and steamed. It is also used in various kinds of stew. Stews that have low salinity are favorable in such cooking.
In Greece, zucchini is usually fried or boiled with other fruits (often green chili peppers and eggplants). It is served as an hors d’œuvre or as a main dish, especially during fasting seasons. Zucchini is also often stuffed with minced meat, rice and herbs and served with avgolemono sauce. In several parts of Greece, the flowers of the plant are stuffed with white cheese, usually feta or mizithra cheese, or with a mixture of rice, herbs and occasionally minced meat. Then they are deep-fried or baked with tomato sauce in the oven.
In Bulgaria, zucchini are fried and then served with a dip, made from yoghurt, garlic and dill. Another popular dish is oven-baked zucchini—sliced or grated—covered with a mixture of eggs, yoghurt, flour and dill.
In Egypt, zucchini are cooked with tomato sauce, garlic and onions.
In Spain, zucchini (calabacín in Spanish) is a core ingredient of pisto. Zucchini are also fried with egg and onions in olive oil to make a “Spanish” tortilla called “tortilla de calabacín”.
Recipes for Zucchini’s …or Courgettes
You can do just about anything with the versatile zucchini,
if you get a huge
bunch. Of course you have heard that but what? I really don’t want Zucchini ice cream or Zucchini pizza.
with cheese and herb stuffing
Here are some more ideas …just to get your mind working.
Tuscan Zucchini Baskets
Wrap a Salmon Filet in Zucchini Slices
Cooking with Zucchini Blossoms
You can use both of the male and female blossoms on the Zucchini plant.
The female will be the only one that develops the zucchini. The female blossoms
are more expensive in the marketplace.
Zucchini blossoms can be used for many things.
You can stuff them, top pizzas, and quesadillas, fry them tempura style, and use them in soups.
One chef stuffs them as a mold for risotto.
Stuffed Zucchini Blossom Recipes
Fried Stuffed Squash Blossoms
with cheese and herb stuffing
Zucchini Blossom Quesadillas
While easy to grow, zucchini, like all squash, requires plentiful bees for pollination. In areas of pollinator decline or high pesticide use, such as mosquito-spray districts, gardeners often experience fruit abortion, where the fruit begins to grow, then dries or rots. This is due to an insufficient number of pollen grains delivered to the female flower. It can be corrected by hand pollination or by increasing the bee population.
More Tips on growing Zucchini
Nutrition and Zucchini
Zucchini is low in calories and has lots of vitamins. It is considered a great food for a diet because it is a “Filling Food” and for the amout of calories, about 17 per 100g or 4 ounces, it creates a feeling of being full. Most of the vitamins are in the peel, which is also a good source of fiber.
Zucchini is a great source of potassium and B vitamins.
The golden zucchini is a great source of beta carotene.
The flexibility of the zucchini lends itself well if you are vegetarian or on a diet as you can use it for so many things. For instance , if I was going to serve potato pancakes I would use shredded zucchini instead of potatoes. I have used long slices of zucchini in place of lasagna noodles, and in place of tortillas in Enchiladas.
Grated zucchini goes well in muffins or bread to give it body and extra vitamins.
1. If your going to store zucchini it is best that you don’t wash it.
Links and Resources
Great article on how to self pollinate zucchini blossoms
Excellent site on zucchini nutrition
Long Island Seed Project
info about round zucchinis
Zucchini, (Cucurbita pepo), also called courgette, variety of summer squash in the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae), grown for its edible fruits. Zucchinis are common in home gardens and supermarkets, and the young fruits are cooked as a vegetable. The flowers are also edible and are sometimes fried.
Zucchini plants are typically bushy and non-vining, though some varieties have a creeping habit. The leaves are large and palmately lobed, and both the stems and the leaves have small prickly trichomes (plant hairs). The large unisexual flowers have five yellow-orange petals and are pollinated by bees and other insects. Most varieties bear dark green cylindrical fruit, but some produce round or intermediate shapes in colours ranging from yellow-green to nearly black. The fruit is a type of berry known as a pepo and is usually harvested before the rind hardens. The plants are susceptible to squash bugs and squash vine borers, and the fruits can be affected by blossom-end rot in uneven watering conditions.
6 Things You Should Know About Zucchini
If you want a veggie that’s extremely versatile, look no further than zucchini. Whether eaten raw or cooked, there’s so many ways to enjoy it and still get a solid amount of a few vitamins and minerals you need. Zucchini actually falls under the umbrella of summer squash, which are squashes that get harvested before their rinds harden (unlike, say, pumpkins and butternut squash). Here are some other fun facts about this veggie that may surprise you.
First, how many calories are in zucchini?
Not many—in fact zucchini is super low in calories and makes the perfect light side dish for a heavy meal: One cup of sliced zucchini has about 19 calories. That’s 40 to 50% lower than the same serving size for other low-cal green veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. And because it’s so versatile, you can enjoy this low-calorie food in so many different recipes, from baked fries to pesto roll-ups. Of course, you can always grill zucchini with herbs for some savory flavor, too.
RELATED: 30 Foods Under 40 Calories, with Recipes
You can eat the blossoms
Even though zucchini is served as a vegetable, it’s technically a fruit because it comes from a flower: it grows from a golden blossom that blooms under the leaves. They don’t normally sell the blooms in the grocery store, but you can find them at farmers’ markets. And these beauties aren’t just for looking at—you can eat them, too. The most popular way to prepare them is fried or stuffed.
RELATED: 26 Quick and Tasty Zucchini Recipes
Zucchini may be good for your heart
Zucchini has a good amount of potassium: 295 milligrams per cup, or 8% of your recommended daily value. According to the American Heart Association, potassium can help control blood pressure because it lessens the harmful effects of salt on your body. Studies suggest boosting your potassium intake (while also curbing sodium) can slash your stroke risk and may also lower your odds of developing heart disease. Zucchini is also high in the antioxidant vitamin C, which may help the lining of your blood cells function better, lowering blood pressure and protecting against clogged arteries. One cup of sliced zucchini has 20 milligrams, or about 33% of your daily value.
RELATED: 15 Foods High in Potassium
You can substitute it for pasta
Sure, you can add zucchini to your spaghetti recipes, but you can also use it in place of noodles altogether. So-called “zoodles” are a great pasta alternative, and they’re easy to make with the help of some kitchen gadgets. With a mandolin or a spiral slicer, you secure the zucchini on prongs and push the veggie toward the blades. Not only does it make things easy, but it’s also kind of cool to see dozens of noodles cranked out at once. A smaller and less expensive option is a julienne peeler, which has a serrated blade to create thin strips.
RELATED: 14 Farmers Market Recipes
It’s not always green
You may be used to seeing a vegetable that’s green and speckled, but there’s a yellow variety of zucchini, and it’s easy to confuse with yellow squash, a different type. The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the shape. Yellow squash usually has a tapered neck, either crooked or straight, whereas zucchini of any color looks like a cylinder from end to end. Though not much is known about the difference between the varieties, some say golden zucchini has a sweeter flavor than the green kind. Because it retains its color after cooking, it also makes a sunny addition to any dish.
RELATED: 13 Veggies You Only Think You Don’t Like
It has an international pedigree
Italians are thought to have bred modern zucchini from the squash they picked up in colonial America. “Zucca” is actually the Italian word for squash. That’s why you’ll see zucchini referred to as “Italian squash” in some recipes. Still, summer squash has been around for quite some time. The crop dates back to 5500 B.C. where it was integral in the diets of people living in Central America and South America, according to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. (And if you’re in Europe, it may appear on menus as “courgette.”)
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Zucchini Plants Flowering But Not Producing Fruit
There are a number of reasons your zucchini plants may not be producing much fruit. To start, it’s important to understand that zucchini and other squash plants are monoecious, meaning they produce separate male and female flowers on the same plant. While these flowers may look very similar at first glance, there are some distinct differences once you take a closer look. The most obvious differences are the small immature fruits at the bases of female flowers and the long thin stems of male flowers (pictured above). Early in the growing season, squash plants tend to produce more male than female flowers. While you may have tons of flowers, in order to produce fruit you must have both male and female flowers at the same time.
Bees and other pollinators are usually responsible for transferring pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers, which ultimately leads to fruit development. If there are few bees in your garden, you’ll likely have poor pollination and fruit set. Bees are sometimes few and far between in urban areas. If you think this is the case in your own garden, you can try playing the role of a bee yourself by hand pollinating the flowers. The pollen of squash plants is very sticky and is formed in the center of the male flowers. You can try using a small paint brush to move some of the pollen from the male flower to the stigma of the female flower. If that sounds too tedious, you can also just remove the male flower and gently roll its pollen onto the stigma of the female flower. It’s best to try hand-pollination early in the morning as squash flowers open early and only last for one day. Also keep in mind that squashes can only be fertilized by their same species. A zucchini cannot be pollinated by a winter squash and vice versa.
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Zucchini Not Producing
A customer came into the store last week, concerned that she wasn’t getting any zucchini from her summer squash plants. “I think I have all male flowers,” she said. Although it does occasionally happen that a summer squash will produce all or mostly male blooms, if you have more than one plant it’s unlikely that this is the reason for the lack of production. It would be very, very rare to have two or more plants that are producing only male flowers. Here are some of the most common reasons that squash plants don’t produce fruit:
1. Lack of pollinators. Be sure you have a variety of flowers around your veggie garden that attract bees and other pollinators to your garden. Zinnias, Nepeta, Echinacea and Calamintha are some of the plants that will bring in the bees.
2. Watering every morning. If you have a sprinkler that comes on in the morning, you’ll be keeping the bees away at the time when most pollination takes place. It’s better to water less frequently anyway, and watering with soaker hoses is also a smart way to irrigate. If you’re using a sprinkler, water deeply every five days so that on the other mornings the bees have access to your squash flowers.
3. Avoid insecticides. Needless to say, if you’re spraying an insecticide that kills all insects you’ll be doing in the very pollinators that will help you have fruit.
4. Rotting fruit. Keep developing fruit away from soil and again, avoid frequent watering. Sometimes there are female blooms that are getting pollinated but because the plants are getting watered daily the young squash rots before it develops. See photo below. Mulching under the plants to keep the squash off the soil, and watering less frequently so that the surface area around the plants dries up, will help prevent rot.
5. Young plants. Young squash plants often produce male flowers for a week or or more before they start to make female flowers. The guys are just anxious to get things going, I guess… patience usually ends up paying off, however, and the female flowers appear as the plants get older.
Male flowers have long stems with no swelling under the blossom. If you like stuffed squash flowers, pick the males after noon and cook them for dinnner.
See how the stem under this bloom is thick? This is a female flower that has been pollinated. To the right of the yellow bloom is another feamle that hasn’t opened and been pollenated yet. If that flower isn’t pollenated when it opens the swelling underneath won’t go on to develop into a summer zucchini. That’s why you want to be sure that the bees are on the job!
This is an example of a pollinated flower that started to make fruit, and the squash began to rot before it could develop. This plant is mulched with chopped leaves, but was watered in the AM on a particularly cloudy, humid day so the fruit stayed so damp that rot set in.
Zucchini Fruit Fall Off The Plant Before They Are Full Grown
For the most part, zucchini plants are one of the most prolific performers in the garden, but even the beloved and prolific zucchini is prone to problems. One of these problems can be when the zucchini fruit on your zucchini plant grows just a little bit and then seemingly inexplicably falls off.
What Causes Zucchini Fruit to Fall Off the Plant?
The most common cause of zucchini fruit falling off the plant is no or poor pollination. This means that for some reason, the flowers on your zucchini plant were not properly pollinated and the fruit was unable to produce seeds. Remember, a plant’s sole purpose is to produce seeds. When a fruit has shown it will not produce seeds, the plant will “abort” the fruit rather than invest precious time and energy in growing it.
A less common reason for zucchini fruit falling off a plant is blossom end rot. The tell tale signs of this are blacked ends on the stunted fruit.
How Do I Fix Zucchini Fruit Falling Off the Plant Prematurely?
In situations where you have poor pollination, the first place to look is at your own gardening practices. Are you using pesticides in your garden? Pesticides frequently kill off the good pollinator bugs as well as the bad bugs. If you are using pesticides, stop this practice and look into other pest control methods that will not be as harmful to the pollinators.
If you are not using pesticides, your garden may simply be a victim of a national epidemic that this affecting farmers and gardeners across the United States. The honeybee population has declined rapidly in the past decade. Honeybees are the most common kind of pollinator found in the garden and, unfortunately, they are getting harder and harder to find. Try attracting some of the less common pollinators, like mason bees, bumble bees and butterflies to your garden. In a worst case scenario, you can hand pollinate the flowers on your zucchini plants.
If the problem is a blossom end rot problem, the situation will most likely remedy itself, but you can speed the process along by adding calcium additives to your soil. Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil.