Zucchini has overtaken even salad cucumber in popularity in recent years.
It is grown in almost every garden and bears fruit in incredible abundance.
What should self-growers watch out for?
How to process the zucchini crop?
A great collection of information and useful tips. All in one place!
What is zucchini? Fruits or vegetables?
Similar to melons or pumpkins, courgettes also belong to pumpkins ( Cucurbita pepo ). However, pumpkins are classified as winter squashes – they are harvested only when they are ripe and have a hard crust. On the other hand, courgettes are summer squashes and are harvested in the immature, young stage, i.e. while they have soft, edible skin.
Zucchini is classified as a berry. Perhaps for that reason, they are generally (and mistakenly) referred to as false berries and so-called fruit vegetables. Although zucchini are commonly used more like vegetables, botanically they are actually fruits – they develop from flowers and contain seeds.
Pumpkins were cultivated as early as 7,000 years ago, but the modern zucchini was only bred from them at the end of the 19th century. It then experienced consumer success in much later years (around 1930).
Health benefits of zucchini
Zucchini is rich in vitamins, minerals and other health-promoting substances. For example, it contains a large amount of potassium and vitamin C. It is also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are nutrients important for eye health – their effect is comparable to vitamin A and beta-carotene.
Vitamin and mineral content in 100 g of raw zucchini:
| Raw zucchini|
|recommended daily intake|
|Vitamin C||17.9 mg||18%|
|Niacin (vitamin B3)||0.451 mg||4%|
|Vitamin B6||0.163 mg||12%|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||2,120 μg||23%|
According to the latest studies, it is the aforementioned antioxidants (lutein and zeaxanthin) that reduce the risk of disease or vision damage. And mostly those that are normally related to age and aging. A diet that includes foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin even prevents cataracts.
Zucchini also helps stabilize blood sugar. It prevents a sharp rise in blood sugar after a meal. Zucchini skin, which contains much more antioxidants than the flesh, is an effective prevention of diabetes. Therefore, it is generally recommended not to peel the zucchini and eat it with the skin.
When is zucchini poisonous?
Wild zucchini can be toxic to humans because they contain cucurbitacins – extremely bitter toxins. These cause digestive problems or symptoms of mild poisoning:
- severe pain in the abdomen
- dizziness and fainting
Commercial varieties are bred so that they do not contain toxins, so they are completely safe for consumption. However, growers who grow zucchini at home must be especially careful. It usually happens that inedible toxic courgettes grow from a cultivated edible variety. Pollination by wild or ornamental gourds is a problem. Edible courgettes fertilized in this way can then start producing much more cucurbitacins and thus become toxic.
Is it possible to know that zucchini from the garden is toxic? Yes, poisonous zucchini are abnormally bitter.
Zucchini, is it suitable for weight loss?
Zucchini is a highly valued food, especially due to its low calorie content and high content of essential nutrients. Zucchini contains a minimal amount of carbohydrates, which is why it is a great substitute for pasta or rice in all low-carb diets.
It is also made up mainly of water (95%) and thus induces a long-term feeling of satiety. Zucchini, as well as other non-starchy vegetables, is highly recommended for any weight loss.
Nutritional values of one zucchini
| Raw zucchini|
1 medium piece (196g)
|Energy value||33 kcal|
Is zucchini the same as cucumber?
Especially among novice cooks, it is quite common to confuse zucchini and cucumber. And no wonder, they really look exactly the same at first glance. What are the differences between them?
- it is usually heat treated
- her skin is dry
- it is very solid, hard
- it will soften during cooking
- it is served rather raw
- her skin is more wet
- it is soft to the touch
- it retains a slight crunch during cooking
Vitamin content – comparison between cucumber and zucchini
Zucchini is more nutritious because it provides many more health-promoting substances. Compared to cucumber, it contains more B vitamins. It also has 6 times higher vitamin C content, and is a greater source of potassium and iron.
| Raw zucchini|
1 medium piece (196g)
| Raw cucumber|
1 medium piece (196g)
|Calcium||31.4 mg||30.6 mg|
|Iron||0.725 mg||0.548 mg|
|Potassium||512 mg||287 mg|
|Vitamin C||35.1 mg||5.4 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.319 mg||0.078 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.884 mg||0.192 mg|
Types of zucchini
Common zucchini tends to be green in color, either light or dark. However, there are also varieties that are yellow, orange or even black. The classic zucchini that you know from stores and gardens grows to an elongated shape and a size of 18-30 cm. As indicated above, not all zucchini varieties are alike. So you can also meet a small and round zucchini that looks like an apple.
The most cultivated and widespread zucchini ever. They are grown all year round so that they are available in supermarkets even in winter.
Green zucchini has a creamy white flesh that contains small, delicate and edible seeds. Its taste is chewy, spongy with a hint of nutty. It is most often combined with tomatoes, garlic, corn, eggplant, parsley, basil, oregano, olive and rice oil, eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, plain and roasted poultry.
Golden aka yellow zucchini
As the name suggests, these courgettes have a golden yellow skin. Varieties of this color have only been cultivated for a short time, first appearing on the commercial market in 1973.
Yellow zucchini doesn’t taste much different from green zucchini, it’s just a little sweeter. Excellent with tomatoes, garlic, peppers, thyme, oregano, walnuts and pine nuts, feta cheese, lamb, pork and poultry.
These distinctive zucchinis come from Italy, where they have a very long history and are very popular. They are unmistakable, characterized by bright stripes along their entire length.
The striped zucchini is very similar to the yellow one, it is also sweeter than the classic green varieties. However, it is popular primarily for its specific skin, which brightens up any bland dish. It tastes great in combination with vinegar, cane sugar, onion, garlic, dill, olive oil, curry, chili, shrimp and tuna.
What is the healthiest way to eat zucchini?
Zucchini are commonly available in supermarkets, both fresh and chilled or frozen. Similar to most vegetables and fruits – raw zucchini is the healthiest. So the best way to consume zucchini is to eat it fresh and uncooked.
A great option is raw zucchini pasta, or zoodles. This is zucchini cut into thin strips that look like spaghetti or noodles. You can also buy them at the store, or make them at home; simply and without added preservatives.
Zucchini noodles – how to make and prepare them?
Zucchini noodles are an excellent base for gluten-free and diet recipes. If you haven’t tried them yet, don’t hesitate! And how to actually make zucchini spaghetti?
Using a julienne peeler . This vegetable peeler is a very popular kitchen helper. It is small, compact and suitable for preparing delicate strips of any vegetable. High-quality julienne peelers are made of solid stainless steel, so even very hard vegetables can be cut with them.
You can also make noodles using a manual spiralizer . The latter is a relatively new kitchen gadget, but its popularity is increasing considerably because it is extremely versatile. You can use it to cut onion rings, but also cabbage for coleslaw or apples for strudel. Spiralizer noodles are curly, twisted, and therefore much more similar to classic spaghetti.
Zucchini noodles are best left raw as they stay crispy al dente. It should be remembered that zucchini is full of water. Therefore, weak noodles will be cooked immediately, usually within a single minute.
The basic rule for preparing warm zucchini noodles is: only reheat, do not boil .
- just mix them with a warm sauce to heat them up enough
- they can be heated in a microwave oven, but only for half a minute at 700 W
- you can fry them in a hot pan with olive oil, ideally one minute at most two
What dishes should I add them to? How to taste them? What to cook with them? Check out the best zucchini spaghetti recipes and try great healthy alternatives, you won’t know the difference from classic pasta!
Cooking with zucchini
If you don’t like raw zucchini, you can of course also cook it. In terms of nutritional values, cooked zucchini is very similar to raw zucchini. Cooked, however, contains a little less vitamins, especially vitamin C, which disappears during cooking.
Comparison of nutritional values of raw and cooked zucchini:
| Raw zucchini|
| Boiled zucchini|
|Energy value||17 calories||15 calories|
|Proteins||1.21 g||1.14 g|
|Carbohydrates||3.11 g||2.69 g|
|Fiber||1 g||1 g|
|Vitamin C||17.9 mg||12.9 mg|
- Whether you grow or buy zucchini, don’t hesitate to use it in sweet dishes too! Take a look at the recipes for zucchini buns , you will be surprised what can be baked from one ordinary zucchini. For example, zucchini gingerbread is definitely worth a try.
- If you belong to the part of the population that is bloated by classic sauerkraut, you should definitely try pickled zucchini, aka zucchini cabbage .
- Baked zucchini is one of the most popular dishes ever. It can be baked in perhaps a hundred ways, be inspired byrecipes for baked zucchini and try, for example, baked zucchini with minced meat or baked potatoes in combination with zucchini and scallions.
- A meatless version of meatballs? These are zucchini pancakes , which are popular not only with vegetarians, but also with carnivores. Pancakes baked in the oven are a great (and especially light) substitute for greasy and heavy potato chips.
- Summer, barbecues, celebrations and zucchini season. Of course, you can grill zucchini, but you can also use it to make a healthy and tasty spread for canapés and sandwiches. Recipes for zucchini spreads are simple, quick, novel and fresh! You and your guests will be delighted.
- Are you a lover of soups and can’t imagine lunch without them? Good news – you can also cook soup from zucchini. You can try creamy, but also non-traditional ones with ginger or watercress, get to know them all – top recipes for zucchini soups .
Zucchini thrive in a mild climate, so growing them in the Czech Republic is really easy. Ideally, they should be planted in a place where they will have enough space and at least six hours of sunlight a day.
They are popular among gardeners because they produce really abundantly (on average 20 zucchini in one season). During growth, however, zucchini must be harvested continuously, as the plant will not produce more than 6 fruits at a time.
Do you know that…?
In 2010, zucchini became the center of global attention after a Montana woman used a 20cm zucchini to drive a 91kg bear out of her garden, which had just attacked her dog.