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All about “Zucchini”, summer squash

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Zucchini is a summer squash and is one of the diuretic vegetables. It can be eaten raw to dip in a sauce, in a salad, or cooked, sautéed, fried, in soup…

Zucchini characteristics:

  • Low in calories;
  • Rich in fiber;
  • Rich in group B vitamins;
  • Stimulates intestinal transit;
  • Play on satiety.

What is zucchini?

Zucchini identity card

  • Type: Vegetable;
  • Family: Cucurbits;
  • Origin: America;
  • Season: May to September;
  • Green color ;
  • Flavor: Sweet.

Characteristics of the zucchini

Zucchini is a vegetable that grows on the ground and has large green leaves. Before becoming a vegetable, we first observe an orange-colored flower.


Word from the nutritionist

When possible, it is best to consume the zucchini with the skin to keep all the nutrients. A portion of zucchini corresponds to 150 to 200g of zucchini.

Nutritional values

For 100g of cooked zucchini:

Nutrients                                                             Quantities                                                            
Protein 0.6g
Fat 0.1g
Carbohydrates 2.5g
Water 94.7 g
Fibers 0.9 g
Vitamin C 6 mg
Vitamin B2 0.04 mg
Vitamin B6 0.07 mg
Beta carotene 210 µg
Iron 0.3 mg
Potassium 170 mg

 

12 benefits of zucchini: why eat it?



  1. Zucchini contains rutin, a phenolic compound from the flavonoid family. Rutin (which does not necessarily come from zucchini) has some antioxidant activity in vitro that can, among other things, protect LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) against oxidation5 and delay this process. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol is known to cause atherosclerosis, a predisposing factor for cardiovascular disease.
  2. Zucchini contains large amounts of lutein, but also zeaxanthin, two compounds in the carotenoid family. Carotenoids can exert an antioxidant action, thus protecting the organism (and more particularly the tissues of the eye) against the harmful effects of free radicals. Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the macula and retina of the eye, protecting it from oxidative stress that could cause damage.
  3. Boiled squash is a source of phosphorus. Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. This mineral plays an essential role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues, helps maintain the pH of the blood and is one of the constituents of cell membranes.
  4. Boiled squash is a source of magnesium. Magnesium participates in bone development, protein construction, enzymatic actions in muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and in the transmission of nerve impulses.
  5. Boiled squash is a source of potassium. In the body, potassium is used to balance the pH of the blood and to stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid by the stomach, thus promoting digestion. In addition, it facilitates the contraction of muscles, including the heart, and participates in the transmission of nerve impulses.
  6. Boiled patisson is a source of iron for men, but not for women, since their respective needs for this mineral are different. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It is important to note that the iron contained in plants is less absorbed in the body than the iron contained in animal products. However, the absorption of iron from plants is favored if it is consumed with certain nutrients such as vitamin C.
  7. Boiled zucchini is a source of manganese. Raw zucchini and raw patisson are only sources of manganese for women. Manganese acts as a cofactor for several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals.
  8. Boiled zucchini is a source of copper. As a constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help the body’s defense against free radicals.
  9. Raw zucchini is a source of vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, riboflavin plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and the formation of red blood cells.
  10. Zucchini (raw and boiled) is a source of vitamin B6. Also called pyridoxine, vitamin B6 is part of coenzymes that participate in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis (manufacture) of neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It also contributes to the production of red blood cells and allows them to transport more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. Finally, this vitamin plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors.
  11. Raw zucchini is a source of vitamin C. Boiled zucchini is only a source for women. The role that vitamin C plays in the body goes beyond its antioxidant properties; it also contributes to the health of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. In addition, it protects against infections, promotes the absorption of iron from plants and accelerates healing.
  12. Boiled zucchini is a source of vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene. It is one of the most versatile vitamins, playing a role in several body functions. Among other things, it promotes the growth of bones and teeth, keeps the skin healthy and protects against infections. In addition, it plays an antioxidant role and promotes good vision.

How to choose your zucchini

They should be chosen firm, without black marks or spots and preferably small.

The different varieties

The most common varieties are the long and cylindrical varieties. We count about fifteen on our stalls. There are also more atypical varieties such as the round varieties.

Keep well

In the refrigerator: unlike winter squash, harvested at full maturity, and whose skin is tougher and the flesh less charged with water, zucchini does not keep long. Put them in a perforated plastic bag and keep them for two or three days in the vegetable drawer (more mature fruits will keep longer). Wash them preferably just before preparing them.

In the freezer: cut them into slices or dices, blanch them and put them in freezer bags. They can also be incorporated into a ratatouille or other dishes which are then frozen in airtight containers.

In the dehydrator: cut the fruit into very thin slices and put in the dehydrator or in an oven set to very low temperature, leaving the door slightly open.

Zucchini preparation

How to cook it? How to match it?

  • Marjoram, cumin, parsley, dill, rosemary and savory go well with zucchini.
  • Saute very young fruits just a few minutes with their flower or dip them in a donut dough and fry.
  • They can also be served raw as a dip, after having cut them into sticks. Or make them marinades, like pickles.
  • Larger fruits, therefore more ripe, can be stuffed with meat, vegetables, nuts or any other ingredient of their choice, and baked in the oven. The pastries are particularly suitable for this type of preparation.
  • Cut the zucchini into thick slices, pass them through cornstarch and fry in oil. Serve as a starter with a Japanese sauce made with dashi, mirin and soy sauce. Serve with grated ginger and finely chopped green onions.
  • Alternate layers of zucchini, onions and Parmesan cheese and bake.
  • Grate the flesh of larger, floury fruits and incorporate it into a bread or cake mix.
  • In the leek soup, replace the potatoes with zucchini.
  • Coulis: cook diced zucchini with rosemary, in water or broth until tender (just a few minutes). Pass them in a blender with fromage blanc and a little light cream. Serve with fish or grilled meat.
  • Stuff half-zucchini cut lengthwise and seeded with merguez sausages or other sausages of your choice, cover with mozzarella slices and tomato sauce and bake for one hour in the oven.
  • Sauté the flesh with a mandolin (a cooking utensil used to mince solid foods) and serve as a salad with a julienne of red peppers, seasoned with basil, marjoram and a house dressing.
  • Ratatouille: this essential of French cuisine is prepared with tomatoes, zucchini, onions, eggplants and garlic. Simmer until vegetables are tender and serve over pasta or a slice of bread.
  • Grill the zucchini and eggplant slices and the peppers split in half, after having seasoned them with thyme and rosemary, salted and peppery. Serve as is with a drizzle of olive oil.
  • In couscous.
  • Simply cooked in a pan with other seasonal vegetables: onion, eggplant, tomato, fennel, green beans, etc.
  • Serve the flowers in salads, in omelets or on pasta, or even stuff them with a preparation based on ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and beaten egg, seasoned with basil or another herb of your choice. Dip them in a donut batter and fry in a pan in oil.
  • Make it into thin strips to replace pasta and increase our consumption of vegetables.

Allergies

Profilin

Zucchini, like other foods, can cause allergic reactions in some people. Profilin is a compound implicated in the incidence of these reactions. Zucchini, cucumber, squash, pumpkin and pumpkin are similar species of cantaloupe and other melons, hence the existence of possible cross reactions between these species. A person with an allergy to one of these foods could therefore also be allergic to another.

Zucchini is also a food implicated in oral allergy syndrome. This syndrome is an allergic reaction to certain proteins from a range of fruits, vegetables and nuts. It affects some people with allergies to environmental pollens and is characterized by mouth and throat symptoms. This syndrome is almost always preceded by hay fever.


Plant food reaction

When some people allergic to ragweed consume raw zucchini (cooking usually degrades allergenic proteins), an immunological reaction may occur. Local symptoms limited to the mouth, lips and throat such as itching and burning sensations may then occur, and usually disappear within a few minutes after consuming or touching the offending food. In the absence of other symptoms, this reaction is not serious and consumption of zucchini does not have to be systematically avoided. However, it is recommended that you consult an allergist to determine the cause of reactions to plant foods. The latter will be able to assess whether special precautions should be taken.

Zucchini history

The term “courgette”, which designates fruits harvested before maturity from certain varieties of squash, did not appear in the French language until 1929.

The expression “summer squash” includes zucchini, patisson, gourd-necked squash and all the other fruits of the varieties of squash that are harvested before they are fully ripe.

Native to America, the zucchini was probably domesticated in Mexico and elsewhere in Central America, about 9,000 or 10,000 years ago. With the exchanges between the Amerindian peoples, it quickly spread to the north, so much so that on the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, its culture was widely spread on the continent.

Typically American

Zucchini is American. Surprising, right? Who could imagine that the most popular vegetables in Italian cuisine – zucchini, tomato and eggplant – do not come from this country? Zucchini was absolutely unknown in Europe before the 16th century.

It belongs to the same botanical species as the pumpkin, at least some varieties, and the decorative squash, too bitter to be consumed. This shows the important selection work that has been carried out on this species, over the millennia, to arrive at obtaining fruits as different from each other.

For a long time, the fruits of this species were cultivated either to serve as containers or for their nutritious seeds. It is only fairly recently that cultivated varieties have been selected for their immature fruits. The zucchini, which belongs to the subgroup of squash called “marrow”, was probably selected by the peoples of southern Mexico, while the patisson and the necked gourd were chosen by those of the eastern United States.

More than any other, marrow squash excited Europeans when they arrived in America. In the 400 years since its discovery, they have selected hundreds of cultivars for early flowering, compact plants and uniform fruit. Zucchini has therefore become a staple of southern European cuisine. The United States, China, the Middle East and South America have also produced cultivars suited to their respective cuisine and climate.

Without being entirely lacking in nutrients, summer squash is much less nutritious than winter squash, because they are harvested very young on the one hand and their pale flesh, on the other hand, does not have the precious carotenoid pigments of their cousins. Their interest is due to the fact that they are available much earlier in the season. With their watery and refreshing flesh, they also lend themselves to many culinary preparations.

For further

Organic gardening

Sow or transplant the young plants that have been started three or four weeks before, after the last frosts of spring (from the beginning to mid-June). As the fruits will not be harvested at maturity, there will be time, if desired, to make a second sowing in July.

Sow four or five seeds in buttons (small mounds) preferably mounted the previous fall and enriched with good manure or compost. The struts will be spaced 1.5 m apart. When the plants are well established, thin out to keep only the two or three strongest.


Irrigate as needed, especially when establishing plants.

Young fruits are more flavorful than more mature ones. Check the plants daily and harvest before they reach 5 cm in diameter and 15 cm to 20 cm in length. Barely formed fruits, still attached to the flower, are considered a fine product. We barely make them jump with their flower or we serve them raw. The pastries are harvested before their diameter reaches 8 cm or 10 cm. Cut the fruit with scissors or pruning shears and take care not to damage the still fragile skin of these immature fruits. In addition, in case of sensitivity, protect your hands and arms against stems and leaves which are provided with irritating spines.

Against the striped cucumber beetle, a harmful insect, protect with a fine mesh fabric, which will be removed at the time of flowering, plants needing bees for their pollination. At this point, they should be able to resist insect attack. However, in case of serious infestation, especially at the time of flowering and ripening of the fruit, treat with rotenone.

Ecology and environment

In its number 2208, the New Scientist announced that a Brazilian researcher had discovered that by spraying fresh milk (diluted in a ratio of 9 to 1) on the leaves of cucumber or zucchini, it was possible to effectively combat certain diseases, including powdery mildew. This mold, omnipresent in gardens and cucurbit fields from mid to late summer, covers the leaves with white dust, preventing photosynthesis and, consequently, the good development of the fruits, which obliges producers to use chemical fungicides. We do not yet understand how milk works, but we advance two causes: milk is known to destroy certain microorganisms and it contains potassium phosphate, mineral which strengthens the immune system of plants.

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