Squash, Summer

Cucurbita pepo

USDA Nutritional Info

Summer squash are the fruits of some varieties of C. pepo which are harvested while still immature (in contrast to winter squash, which are left to mature on the vine before harvest). Thus, their skin is delicate, flesh easily bruised, and seeds small and soft. Zucchini is the best-known variety of summer squash, but for cooking, all varieties (which include pattypan and crookneck) are interchangeable. Like other members of the Cucurbit family, summer squash is native to the Americas .

Storage: The delicate flesh of summer squash is easily bruised and dehydrates quickly, so handle with care and refrigerate as soon as possible, in a perforated plastic bag or in a plastic container lined with a dish towel. If you’re nice to them, they should keep for a week or (maybe) two in the fridge.

Prep: Wash in cool water. Trim stem and blossom ends. Peel if desired; peeling is not necessary. If the squash is on the larger side, the seeds may have developed past a size you’d like to eat; in that case, cut the squash in half (the long way, if it has a long way) and scoop the seeds out.

Some recipes may benefit from salting or blanching the squash first to remove some of its liquid. To salt, grate, slice, or finely cut the squash, sprinkle lightly with salt, then let sit in a colander for about half an hour. Squeeze handfuls firmly but don’t wring. Don’t forget to adjust the salt in your recipe to account for the salt you added to the squash (alternatively, you can rinse the salt off just before squeezing the water out).

To blanch, boil water and drop whole squashes in. Boil until the flesh just begins to have some give but is still firm. Remove to an ice water bath; drain.

Preserving: To freeze, grate fresh squash, pack into containers, and freeze. It’s the simplest vegetable you will ever try to freeze.

Summer squash is too watery to dry well.

You can pickle summer squash or make it into relish.

Recipes:

Zucchini-Basil Muffins

From The New Complete Book of Breads by Bernard Clayton

Makes 24 medium muffins

  • 2 eggs at room temperature (you can put them in a cup of warm – NOT HOT –  water to speed this up)
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 2/3 c. cooking oil
  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 c. shredded zucchini
  • 2 T. minced fresh basil
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425°F

You’ll need two 12-cup muffin tins, either Teflon or buttered.

In a large bowl break and beat the eggs. Add the milk and oil.

In another bowl measure the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir thoroughly.

Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, 1 c. at a time, and stir until it becomes a thick, moist batter. No beating –  a few lumps are fine.

Gently stir in the zuke and basil, only enough to mix it well. Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling each halfway. Sprinkle parmesan over tops of muffins .

Bake 20-22 min. until tops are golden brown and cheese is melted. Turn a muffin out and tap the crust to be sure it is hard, not soft.

Allow to cool about 10 min. in tins before turning onto a metal rack to cool.

These freeze well.

Sources: Angelic Organics: http://www.angelicorganics.com/Vegetables/vegetablescontent.php?contentfile=vegstorage; Bernard Clayton: The New Complete Book of Breads; Encyclopedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/; Foodland Ontario: http://www.foodland.gov.on.ca/english/vegetables/summersquash/index.html; Marian Morash: The Victory Garden Cookbook.

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