By Ellen Peffley
What to do with all the zucchini! The mother ship in the garden quickly grew from a small seedling into a sprawling bush that exploded to 6 feet in length and almost as wide.
A mixed blessing, for sure. We sauté, roast, bake, fry, grill, broil, steam, and mash zucchini; they get ‘zoodled’ into spiralized noodle strands as substitutes for pasta; turned into cakes, brownies, breads, casseroles, and soups; we leave them at the gym, at church, giving them to anyone who will take them.
On August 8 gardeners are given the ultimate outlet for our zucchini – Sunday is National Sneak Some Zucchini onto your Neighbor’s Porch Day.
August 8 was created as a zucchini holiday by Thomas Roy, a radio personality and actor from Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania. It is a fun holiday popular across America that is observed always on August 8, prime harvest month for zucchini. By August gardeners have been harvesting zucchini for several weeks and have given the vegetable to any who will accept them. This may be why Thomas Roy founded this holiday.
The name zucchini is from the Italian zucca, meaning gourd, and ino, meaning diminutive. The name of this vegetable is ‘Americanized’ from the Italian since one vegetable is zucchino, while zucchini is plural, yet we harvest zucchini one by one. American English vernacular has imported plural forms of Italian foods, treating them as singular nouns, such as spaghetti and ravioli. (dictionary.com)
Alleviate any imagined guilt when giving away baskets full of your home-grown zucchini, knowing that with the gift you are helping your neighbors stay healthy. Zucchini definitely falls into the category of a health food. USDA nutrition data gives it five stars out of five for weight loss and optimum health. It is low in saturated fat and sodium; very low in cholesterol; a good source of protein; high in Vitamins A, B6, C, and K, riboflavin, folate, thiamin, and niacin; a good source for the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, manganese and copper; and a very good source of dietary fiber.
Zucchini is harvested and consumed as an immature vegetable. Optimum harvest stage is 6-8 inches in length whe
n the skin is soft with a bright sheen and the interior seed cavity is small and seeds are indistinct. Skin of larger zucchini is tough without a sheen and the interior has a well-defined seed cavity with hard seeds. There are many varieties of zucchini – varying from dark green to almost black, golden yellow, and grey or light green. The usual shape is slender and oblong but fun new varieties are shaped like small globes.
Some information from nationaldaycalendar.com/