In the Past: Zucchini is one of the better known squash varieties, and was cultivated first in Italy. It is a descendant of the same Central American wild squashes that lead to other types of squash (including the winter variety) we are familiar with today. Christopher Columbus is believed to be responsible for bringing squash to Europe after he arrived in the New World.
In the Soil: Unlike winter squash, summer squash does not store for very long due to its light and fleshy interior. It grows on a similar vine to winter squash with prickly stems and broad leaves. Zucchini are famous among gardeners for producing large amounts of squash, some of which can grow quite large. The largest zucchini recorded was grown in Italy and measured 8 feet, 3.3 inches long!
In the Body: Summer squash has fewer calories than winter squash, but similar levels of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and Folic acid.
In the Kitchen: While zucchini can grow very large, they are considered most flavorful when they are between 6 and 8 inches long. They can be chopped up and added to stir-fries, soups, and stews, or grated and eaten raw in green salads. Larger squash can be sliced lengthwise, hollowed in the center, and stuffed with rice or other vegetables. Because zucchini is so plentiful at certain times of year, there are many creative ways of incorporating into many baked goods like muffins and bread. In Europe and elsewhere, the blossoms of the squash vine are considered a delicacy, dipped in batter and fried.
In Connecticut: Most summer squash is seasonally available here from mid-June to October.
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