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Celebrating the Summer Garden Zucchini Harvest

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Warning, don’t try this at home.  Squash can get heavy! My youngest had some heavy lifting to do when I picked zucchini a few days later than I should have.  We have a lovely zucchini squash harvest, yet I missed them at their most perfect, tender stage.

Weightlifting Zucchini in Garden Flour Sack Mama Blog

Notice below the difference in the squash fruits we picked.  The smaller, still a medium-sized zucchini, is perfect for slicing up raw and eating with a light summer dip.  The larger ones will need to be grilled, blanched or otherwise cooked to be palatable.

light & dark zucchini of different sizes

I’ve shared with you my real struggles with fighting off squash bugs and other pests in our family’s little organic garden.  While resorted to hand picking bugs and using only non-toxic inputs has meant less-than-perfect yields, I’m content with the results we’re getting for a home garden.  If we were in a larger scale organic farm setting, we could be more methodical.

Thanks for joining us again for Saturdays in the Garden!  Want news about organic gardening, Clean Couponing and more direct to your inbox?  Get my free newsletter by signing up here.  I hope you will try this at home: growing summer squash or other favorite foods that your family can enjoy!

Squash for me is a throwback to my days of growing up in the family farm in the Ozarks.  Dad preferred that Mom cook summer squash the Southern way, by battering and frying thin slices in oil. This heritage inspired my sandwich recipe that is all about soaking up summer nostalgia, not necessarily about counting calories or fat.

I also remember the industriousness of my mother and grandmothers who never let any food go to waste.  That’s why they used skills of preserving food, including simply blanching and freezing foods like squash for later use.  According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, it takes only 3 minutes of blanching to properly prepare summer squash for freezing.  In fact, home canning is not recommended for squash.  Here’s a favorite cookie recipe I use in the winter with summer squash I’ve blanched, frozen and drained.

Child holds two baskets of zucchini in lush green garden

Squash is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family of gourds, originating in Central America, then being exported to Europe.  It was in Italy that what we consider a summer squash or zucchini, was developed.  Zucca means squash in Italian.  When the French cook with squash, they call it courgette.  Many of us consider the dark elongated squash the zucchini and call the yellow varieties summer squash.  But you could also call the summer squash yellow zucchini.

Did you know a half-cup serving of summer squash has only 10 calories?  It’s an incredible food for packing in nutrition while going easy on calories, fat and even carbs…as long as you’re not frying it up, of course.  Squash provides vitamin C as well as other nutrients.  Organically grown squash can be eaten with the peeling on to get maximum nutrients.  I like the chili recipe incorporating squash in this recipe from USDA.  Squash is the classic food for adding to all sorts of dishes without necessarily being noticed.

From chili to casseroles to cookies and cakes, it’s a nutritious addition!  Here are a few more ideas:

Check out this Quick and Easy Zucchini Quiche recipe from Selfish Mom.

They’re making Zucchini Noodles with Meatballs at Less Than Perfect Parents.

Try this Light and Healthy Summer Pasta Primavera recipe from Creative Green Living.

Create Vegan Cream of Zucchini Soup with help from Eating Made Easy.

This award-winning popsicle recipe is so sneaky…you’d never even know these are Cherry Limeade ZUCCHINI Popsicles from Creative Green Living!

Want to know how to prepare gourmet zucchini blossoms? Just Ask Chef Dennis.

If you can’t decide which recipes to try with your zucchini, don’t let any of that gorgeous summer produce to go waste!  At least blanche and freeze it until you decide what to make.  Even tossing zucchini into soup and chili throughout the winter is a practical method that works.

If you are buying summer squash, it’s a good food to choose in USDA Organic or Certified Naturally Grown. There has been some effort to create genetically modified squash, so if someone cannot tell you how it was grown, there’s a chance it could be GMO.  As you know, GMO crops tend to be untested for long-term safety and are more likely to carry toxic pesticide residues.  If you must buy conventionally grown squash, wash well and peel before eating.

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