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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Cooking and Produce

 

Make good use of abundant zucchini

Article written with contributions from Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, and Tammy Roberts, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

 

pile of zucchiniAnyone who has grown zucchini knows that a little planting goes a long way. Zucchini is abundant in many gardens, and there are a variety of ways it can be prepared and used. It’s also easy to preserve.

 

Zucchini is the most popular squash in the U.S. It can be eaten raw with dip or added to salad, stir-fry, soups, casseroles and mixed vegetables. It can also serve as a side dish — freshly sautéed by itself or with other summer squash.

 

As long as it’s not fried, zucchini is a very low-calorie vegetable — 1/2 cup of cooked zucchini is 18 calories and has 1 gram of protein. Zucchini is 94 percent water.

 

Here are some tips for preserving zucchini:

 

To freeze slices
Choose young, tender zucchini. Wash and cut it into 1/2-inch slices. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes. Cool promptly in ice-cold water. Drain and package in freezer bags or containers, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Seal and freeze.
 

To freeze grated
Choose young, tender zucchini. Wash and grate zucchini, then water blanch it for 1 to 2 minutes or until it is translucent. Put the zucchini in freezer containers and place the containers in cold water to cool it off. Seal and freeze. Pour off excess water when the zucchini thaws. 

 

Tip when freezing: Divide the zucchini into portions so that each container has just the amount you will need for one recipe or meal. This way you won't have to thaw more than you need at one time.

 

Dehydrated zucchini
Choose young, slender zucchini. Wash zucchini and cut into 1/4-inch slices for cooking purposes or 1/8-inch slices for chips. Dry in a single layer in a 125° oven until brittle. Use slices in soups and casseroles or sprinkle zucchini chips with seasoned salt and serve with dips.

 

There is no recommendation for canning zucchini because of its high water content, which causes zucchini to get soft and tightly packed during the canning process. This makes it hard for zucchini to reach the required temperatures it needs to assure safety for low acid foods.

 


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Last update: Thursday, March 22, 2012