The zucchini, often referred to as green Italian squash, was hardly recognized in the United States just thirty years ago. It is well known now and a favorite of home gardeners as it is easy to grow and produces abundantly. It is eaten as a vegetable as well as used in breads and desserts.
Zucchini is a member of the cucumber and melon family. The people of Central and South America have been eating zucchini for several thousand years.
Christopher Columbus originally brought seeds to the Mediterranean region and Africa. In Italy, it came to be known as zucchino, meaning a small squash. The term squash comes from the Indian skutasquash meaning "green thing eaten raw." The colonists of New England adopted the name squash. It is noted that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson enjoyed eating and growing them in their own gardens.
Today there are hybrid varieties of zucchini that come in varied shapes and sizes. Some are yellow, light green, combinations of colors and even shaped like eight balls or flying saucers. Each has interesting recipes and presentations which make use of their unique shapes!
For the 2013 season, we are growing the following varieties: Green - Spineless Perfection and Paycheck, Yellow - Golden Glory, and a two tone variety called Zephyr.
Store zucchini in a plastic bag in the refrigerator four to five days and do not wash until just before you are ready to use it. At the first sign of wilting, use immediately. Softness is a sign of deterioration.
To freeze, you can slice zucchini into rounds, blanch for two minutes, plunge into cold water, drain, and seal in airtight containers or baggies. Frozen zucchini can be kept for ten to twelve months.
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