Summer squash are tender vegetables with bright green, yellow or white glossy skin. Summer squash differs from fall and winter squash because it is harvested before the rind hardens and the fruit matures. Summer squash comes in a wide array of shapes and sizes. The Scallop or Patty Pan type is a flattened, dish-shaped squash with scalloped edges, ranging from a white to yellow or green color. Constricted neck squashes are usually yellow and are classified as either crookneck or straightneck types, depending on whether their thinner “stems” are bent or straight, respectively. Cylindrical to club-shaped Italian marrows, such as zucchini, cocozelle and caserta, are usually shades of green, but may be yellow or nearly white.
The most familiar of the summer squashes, Zucchini, is a tender and versatile vegetable with a clean, mild flavor. Marked by a firm, yet smooth texture when raw, this vegetable becomes softer and sweeter when cooked. There are many different varieties of zucchini with a wide range of shapes and colors: dark green, medium green, very light green, striped, yellow, round, oblong, thin and fat. Dark green-skinned zucchinis, including Partenon, Black Beauty, Dark Green, and Elite, are known for their tender, white flesh. Grey and Ronde De Nice zucchinis are distinguished by their speckled skin and short, round form. You may recognize striped zucchini—the Cocozelle and Costata Romanesca— for its common use in stuffing.
Summer squashes are very low in cholesterol and sodium, and are considered to be very good sources of dietary fiber, vitamin c, riboflavin, vitamin b6, folate, magnesium, potassium and manganese. One cup of raw summer squash has 32% DV Vitamin C.
Refrigerate in a perforated plastic bag for one to two weeks from the time of harvest; however, remember that tender and small squashes have a shorter shelf life. Throw away any product with punctured skin.
- Put away your vegetable peeler! Summer squash’s flavorful skin contains many nutrients.
- To considerably soften the flesh of your summer squash, blanch cubes or slices of squash for two minutes before freezing for later use.
- Don’t waste squash blossoms! Toss them in the salad bowl or add to any squash preparation for a creative presentation.
- Pickling is the best way to preserve summer squashes; other canning methods are not recommended due to squashes’ tender nature, which usually turns to mush during processing.
Slice and toss with lemon juice, olive oil and Parmesan cheese.