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It's Zucchini Season: Should You Lock Your Car Door?


zucchini

 

This time of year, kind, thoughtful, generous people are known to share the bounty of their fresh, home-grown garden produce with others.  Because it is usually plentiful, zucchini sometimes finds its way into friends’ cars if the doors have been left unlocked. 

Zucchini and other summer squash varieties are harvested at the immature stage and therefore have a soft shell and tender, light-colored flesh.  Zucchini, like cucumbers, are about 95% water, so we can eat and enjoy a large amount (volume) of food for a very low calorie cost.  In fact, one cup of raw, shredded zucchini contains only about 20 calories, while also being a pretty good source of vitamin C and potassium.

Grilling fresh zucchini and using it in recipes is a summer treat.  Cheesy Zucchini Bake is a healthy recipe you might like to try.  It is at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/recipes/vegetables/cheesy_zucchini_bake

Other delicious recipes and quick tricks with zucchini can be found at https://food.unl.edu/fnh/zucchini

Since it is challenging, and perhaps nearly impossible, to use all the zucchini when it is fresh, preserving it makes sense.  Food preservation recipes are plentiful and easy to come by.  However, we are wise to be cautious about the sources we use for food preservation information, especially if we search the internet or old cookbooks.  Much of the information found in those sources has not been tested for safety.  Free, reliable, research-based information about how to safely preserve zucchini and other fresh produce is available at www.ag.ndsu.edu/food.  Click on “Food Preservation” for details. 

The basic steps to prepare zucchini to be frozen are to wash it, then grate or slice it.  Slices should then be blanched (scalded) in boiling water for three minutes; grated zucchini should be steam-blanched in small amounts for about one minute. Quickly cool the blanched zucchini in ice water, drain and package in freezer containers. Leave about ½ inch of head space (the distance from the food to the lid) to allow for expansion. The frozen zucchini can be used in baking and cooking. Remember to drain the liquid off before using.

You may ask if blanching is really necessary.  The answer is yes.  Blanching will slow or stop the action of enzymes on and in the produce.  The enzymes are essential for growth and maturation of the plant, but if the enzyme action is not stopped before freezing, the produce may discolor, toughen or develop off-colors.  Proper blanching will brighten the color and help prevent loss of nutrients.  Blanching times vary with the size and kind of vegetable. The times recommended are just long enough to stop or destroy the enzymes. Be sure to follow the recommended blanching times. If under-blanched, enzyme action continues. If over-blanched, produce can have undesirable changes in color, flavor and nutrients.

Zucchini is versatile in baking recipes.  Quick breads are even quicker if you use a homemade baking master mix.  Find recipes at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn1582.pdf and https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/recipes/grains/zucchini_bread_master_mix.


Sources: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/foodwise/news/preserving-herbs-and-vegetables and http://umaine.edu/publications/4257e/ and "Ready, Set, Freeze," NDSU Extension - Ramsey County 


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