Zucchini is part of the summer squash family. Many people do not realize it but summer squash are a great food for those on a diet. Summer squash are low in calories, fat free, a great source of fiber, and low in sodium. Zucchini is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as manganese. Zucchini is also a good source for niacin, copper, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, , riboflavin, phosphorous, calcium, foliate, and iron. Many of these nutrients have been shown to be helpful for the prevention of diabetic heart disease. Zucchinis magnesium has been shown to be helpful for reducing the risk of heart attack. All parts of the zucchini plant are edible.
Of all the summer squashes perhaps zucchini is the best known . It resembles a cucumber in size and shape. Zucchini can be planted directly in the ground or by transplanting young plants that have been started indoors. Wait until the soil warms to at least 60 degrees . Zucchini is a member of the Cucurbitaceous family that includes cucumbers, melons, gourds, and squash, all particularly sensitive to frost so be sure to plant them in a protected area. Seed directly into the ground filling in the holes with compost . plant in mounds 2 feet apart. Plant seeds 1in deep. Plant in an area that receives 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day watering is essential for zucchini makes sure you do it regularly. Feeding the plants with a high-potassium fertilizer will produce a higher yield. A thick mulch of straw added after planting will preserve moisture and keep the fruits from touching the dirt. In the garden, some gardeners let the squashes ramble through the corn patch, where their sandpaper like leaves help to deter raccoons. Good companion plants for zucchini are: corn, nasturtiums, and marjoram
The flavor of zucchini is best when picked young than six inches long. Zucchini should be firm, but not hard for best quality. Zucchini are prolific producers and regular harvesting will promote new fruit throughout the growing season. Harvest by cutting the stems from the plants gently with a paring knife. As they are composed mainly of water, summer squashes dehydrate rapidly. Harvest just before cooking and keep in the refrigerator until cooking. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t forget that squash blossoms are delicious to eat.
Small zucchini summer squashes are used skin and all. The larger squash need their skin and seeds removed so slice them lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Zucchini can be steamed, baked, boiled, grilled, fried, sauteed, and stuffed. Some ideas include: serve raw as an appetizer with a vegetable dip or salad dressing. Gate zucchini and saute with thinly sliced garlic. Zucchini makes excellent muffins cakes and bread. When you are making stews, casseroles, and soup add cut up zucchini to add extra texture and flavor. Grated zucchini or other summer squash can be added to salads and sandwiches. It can be kept for up to 4 months by freezing. We use the larger zucchinis for muffins and bread. We grate the zucchini and place it in storage bags and put them in the freezer. When we are ready to bake we take out what we need for the recipe and return the rest to the freezer.
Zucchini dates back to at least 7000 B. C. It is native i to Central and South America. Zucchini was brought to North America from by visitors from South and Central America. European explorers, brought the zucchini back to Italy where it was grown for itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sweet blossoms. Later the fruits were experimented with producing many delicious recipes, that is how it got the nickname Italian squash. Up until the 20th Century, zucchini was considered a treat reserved for eating on special occasions and were bought at the store instead of grown in gardens here in America.