Monday, August 8, 2011

For The Love of Zucchini

 Oh how we love zucchini!!! No, seriously, they are one of our favorite vegetables. And though we have four large plants, we aren't one of THOSE people who leave them on doorsteps of unsuspecting friends and neighbors. But, we do occasionally share. We took three nice little ones over to an older couple last night. Just enough for a nice side dish for supper. To keep zucchini from getting too large, I pick them every other night or in the morning if I'm going to freeze a batch for winter.
Since we don't like zucchini shredded in muffins, chocolate cake, and the like we pick our zucchini often to make sure they stay small. If any fruit do manage to hide and become large boats, I cut them up to feed the chickens or pigs if we have any. They are quite fond of them also.

At the end of the summer though I've a hankering to let some of my zucchini reach colossal size for I want to have zucchini races like Kirk, our oldest daughter, and I watched at Boulder Colorado a few summers ago. The local kids were invited to decorate an over grown zucchini in any fashion they desired and after attaching wheels, they raced it down a Pine Wood Derby race track. It was a hoot.

Think of it. A summer version akin to decorating Easter eggs or pumpkins for Halloween.

Only these get to go splat. Secretly, that was one of my favorite parts. There was the cute and the bizarre zucchini racing down the track like a bunch of crash dummies. LOL It was quite a sight.

Our oldest daughter did the same basic thing with a group of young adults, only they used huge potatoes. Prizes were given out for the most cleverly decorated and for those who won the potato races. As for us, we don't have a Derby track but we do have a mighty steep drive-way. And  I know the kids would love it since they are frequently in trouble for, on purpose, sending something crashing down into the street.

Until then, I'll keep our zucchini small and use them in souffles, scrambled eggs, in green salad and pasta salads, in stir fries, and in soups. But most of all, we'll be eating them sliced the long way and grilled on the gas grill. Nothing is better beside a home grown beef steak. With a splash of butter and a sprinkling of garlic salt, the green healthy vegetable is turned into a bit of heaven.

So if you want any of our zucchini, you'll have to ask real nicely. I promise to share - a little anyway - LOL.

It's a good thing zucchini are so good for you with a substantial dose of Vitamin A, quite a few Vitamin B's, Vitamin C, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc, potassium, and even protein all rolled up in a low calorie green high fiber wrapping. When I looked up the nutritional benefits of zucchini I knew why I loved it so much. A large portion of the calories is due to sugars. I do have a sweet tooth.  
To keep this sweet treat for winter, the best way I've found so far to preserve them is to blanch WHOLE small store sized zucchini for three minutes. Cool them quickly and then slice them on to cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. When frozen, you pop them into freezer bags to use in your favorite dishes in the winter. this way they don't become all mushy like when you blanch slices. 
My experiment for this year will be after blanching and cooling them to slice some the length way, like we do when we are going to grill them. Then this winter, we'll see if they will be firm enough after freezing to grill or if they will just make a mess.

What is your favorite way to save zucchini for winter?

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