You can say that zucchini plants are prolific producers because once you harvest the first batch of the product, they overrun your garden in the following weeks.
You might be elaborate and strict with your harvesting techniques around your garden and then wake up one day to find a zucchini large enough to be a baseball bat somewhere in there. What do you do with it?
Well, before thinking of discarding it, read on for a few ideas on zucchinis and how you can best utilize an overgrown zucchini.
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Types of Zucchini
There are only limited variations of zucchini. However, they have quite a few cousins in the squash family, and anything slightly different from the regular zucchini falls into the family.
Here are the types of zucchini:
- Black Beauty – These are the common zucchinis, often green in color.
- Globe Zucchini – Also known as the 8-Ball zucchini, they have a darker to black-green hue and are a little round compared to the normal zucchini.
- Gourmet Gold – This is a yellow zucchini. However, it is similar in texture and taste to the normal green zucchini.
How Big is Too Big?
When harvesting zucchini, it is all about the size of the squash that gives you the harvesting signal.
At this size, the squash has small, less numerous seeds, and the skin and flesh are still soft and tender, making them perfect for stir-frying, making noodles, or just chopping and eating them raw with a nice salad.
However, if you intend to use it to make bread, you should let it grow larger.
If left out in the garden, zucchinis will quickly grow big, to even over 10 inches long. At this size, they will have larger seeds, and the skin will be tougher. Depending on the type, the flavor might be a little bland with a woody texture and cannot fit every recipe.
Can You Use or Eat an Overgrown Zucchini?
Marrows (overgrown zucchinis) don’t really improve with size. Regardless of the size, they are still food and are the best for various recipes, including bread, cakes, and muffins. They are also good for stuffed squash. Depending on the recipe, the possibilities here are endless.
Furthermore, they are packed with lots of beneficial nutrients, including Vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, and folate. All these make marrows healthy foods since they help maintain heart health by decreasing the risk of stroke, lowering cholesterol, and reducing high blood pressure. As mentioned, they can be eaten either cooked or raw.
Marrows have a longer shelf life compared to the smaller and less mature zucchinis and can stay for weeks on the countertop after harvesting, thanks to their thicker skin and flesh.
These qualities are good for your storage units but, unfortunately, make them less popular than their smaller sisters.
To eat them, you will have to carve out and discard the seedy center, including the hard skin on the outside. Their white flesh is drier and best suited for dishes where more texture is needed to elevate the dish, or extra moisture is bad for the recipe.
However, it is absolutely safe to eat the skin, and it’s almost flavorless and might even save on your time when cooking.
Below are a few tried and tested recipes for the overgrown zucchinis.
Zucchini Bread, Sweets, and Muffins
Overgrown zucchinis are best utilized for baked products. The presence of other ingredients easily masks the flavor and texture of the giant vegetable.
Since they have less moisture and flavor, muffins and breads tend to be the best for marrows because this means you will spend less time squeezing out the water after all your work, you get a tasty treat.
Some of the breads, sweets, and muffins you can use marrows for include zucchini bread bites, garlic-yeasted zucchini savory bites, chocolate zucchini donuts, lemon zucchini bread, vegan zucchini bread, no oil or sugar vegan zucchini muffins, chocolate vegan zucchini bread, and healthy chocolate zucchini muffins.
Savory Zucchini Recipes
Marrows are often great for savory zucchini recipes. Their drier flesh and mild flavor complement the bold flavors and zesty sauces of dishes, especially those needing zucchinis for stuffing, making rings, or turning into tasty noodles.
Among the dishes in reference are vegan zucchini pasta with alfredo sauce, zucchini rice gratin, zucchini fritters, zucchini relish, vegan zucchini ravioli, vegan zucchini corn fritters, gluten-free vegan zucchini fritters, Thai zucchini noodles profusion curry, courgette baba ganoush, low carb baked zucchini rings, and vegetarian asparagus terrine.
Zucchini Soup Recipes
Thanks to additional ingredients, soups are the perfect recipes to hide the texture and milder flavor of mature zucchinis. Even after cooking for a long time, zucchini skins might still be a little tough.
To easily go around this and utilize every part of your zucchini, you might want to consider blending the zucchini.
This helps pulverize the texture so that you won’t notice it while more juice releases more flavor. Among the best soups to use overgrown zucchinis with are vegan zucchini soups and roasted courgette soup.
How to Prevent Zucchini from Becoming Overgrown
The key to avoiding overgrown zucchini is picking them early when they are still small and more often. Zucchinis are best for recipes at about 6 inches, and this is the best harvesting size. At this size, they might be light green, dark green, or yellow, depending on the type of zucchini.
Luckily, zucchinis can be harvested in various sizes, depending on the target recipe. Furthermore, you can harvest them even at 5 inches or below. These ones are exceptionally mild and tender, making a great addition to veggie platters and salads.
If you have more than enough, you can always preserve it for your stir-fries and soups in the following winter months. You can also share with friends and neighbors or sell them at the local farmers’ market.
Can You Freeze Raw Zucchini?
You can freeze raw zucchini. However, they are most likely to thaw and lose texture. Zucchinis don’t store well because of their comparatively high water content and should be consumed within a few days of harvesting. This even includes the overgrown zucchinis.
If you have many of them, this might be a problem, and you may want to freeze the extra to avoid waste. However, before you take that step, there are a few points to consider.
Freezing will make your zucchinis lose texture. The only way to maintain this texture is through baked goods since they will always taste fine with either fresh or frozen zucchinis. If you plan to use your frozen zucchinis for this, then you just have to grate the extra zucchinis into containers and storage bags and put them in the freezer.
They will last in the refrigerator for about 3 – 5 days and can last up to 3 months in the freezer when stored fresh.
However, if you want to maintain the texture, you have to blanch your zucchini before storing it. Dipping your zucchini in boiling water for about 2 minutes helps kill the active enzymes responsible for decay. Doing this better preserves the texture and flavor of the vegetable.
Once blanched, they can last in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Did you Know Zucchini Flowers are Edible?
Yes, zucchini flowers are edible, too, just like the squashes. If you are interested in them, wait until just when the blooms have started to open.
At this age, they are most tender and easy to stuff. Nip them to leave about an inch of the stem remaining on the flower, and remember to use a knife or shears when cutting them.
They are good for stuffing rice, lentils, and vegetables. You could also fry them, just as you would with the zucchini fruits.
Zucchinis can grow really huge. However, this doesn’t mean that they cannot be utilized.
Either way, they are still zucchinis, they’re just more mature with a little different flavor and texture compared to their younger selves.
As discussed, marrows are best for a wide range of recipes and can last longer when appropriately stored.