Zucca is Italian for Squash

September 26, 2018 - Rose Villa Baker Tricia Opgenorth | 

Zucchini season is upon us, so I’ve compiled some fun facts about zucchini for you to share with or to quiz your friends.  After learning some very useful (and some not so important) information, I went ahead and quizzed and educated some of my coworkers in the kitchen.  For instance, did you know zucchini is a fruit because it grows from a flower?  Did you know it’s the only fruit that starts with the letter Z?  Or how about that one zucchini is a zucchina?  Zucchini is so versatile when cooking and eating it that even the blossoms are edible!  The squash blossoms are considered a delicacy and are best served fried or stuffed.  There’s so much to know about this food, so here’s a peek at more of what I found.

Zucchini is a summer squash, which is harvested before its rind hardens, unlike a pumpkin or a butternut squash. It was brought to the United States by the Italians in the 1920’s, and it’s common to hear zucchini referred to as Italian squash.  Zucchini should be picked while its skin is still tender and thin, and the seeds are still tiny; about 8” in length.  When you harvest your fruit at the appropriate size, the plant will be stimulated to produce a larger crop.  If the fruit is left on the plant to mature too long, the taste can become mealy, it may need to be seeded, and the rind may harden and become essentially inedible. However, if you’re looking to win that zucchini growing contest, don’t pick it just yet!

There are zucchini contests everywhere, and we even held one of our own through Rose Villa's Tuesday Market.  Wes Brown set the 2018 record for the largest zucchini grown with a length of 22” and weighing in at 8lbs!  Even though he wasn’t there to bask in his glory, he said the secret to growing a large zucchini is neglect!  Week after week, he would check on his plants, and he never noticed any new fruit.  Little did he know at the time, his winning zucchini was hidden under two large leaves; no tending needed.  The world’s largest zucchini on record was grown by Bernard Lavery of Plymouth Devon, UK.  Its length measured 69 ½”, and it weighed 65 lbs.  Giovanni Scozzafavain, of Niagara Falls, Ontario, holds the record for the longest zucchini.  Longer than two baseball bats end-to-end, his zucchini measured 8’ 3”!

The biggest, however, is not always the best.  The most flavorful zucchini are small to medium-sized, and the darker the skin, the richer the nutrients.  This very low-calorie food (19 calories per cup) is also very high in potassium; more potassium than in a banana.  Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure by lowering the harmful effects of sodium in the body.  High amounts of vitamin C in zucchini also help lower blood pressure, and in addition to that, it can help prevent clogged arteries, lowering the risk of heart disease.

I feel healthier and more motivated just sharing all of this!