Buying zucchini can be tricky for those new to this delicious and versatile vegetable. With around 14 varieties available choosing one at your local grocery might seem a bit daunting.
However, fear not, for we’re about to embark on a brief yet concise journey designed to give you the insight you’ll need to get the best zucchini available.
Importance of Knowing How to Buy Zucchine
Zucchini, or Cucurbita pepo, is a savory, nutrient-dense food that adds not only taste and texture to your dish but also serves up numerous healthful benefits. Packed with C, K, and B vitamins, it’s also host to vital antioxidants, necessary minerals, such as potassium, as well as fiber.
Indeed, with so many perks, choosing the best of the bunch is crucial if you are to enjoy its benefits.
Also Read: Is it Costly to Eat Healthfully?
Zoodles, breads, desserts, side dishes, and main dishes alike all have one thing in common: Zucchini as the main ingredient. Classified as a fruit, yet sold as a vegetable, zucchini’s versatility comes from its ability to absorb flavors in a dish.
As you can see, with so much to offer the home cook or master chef, it’s critical to know just how to choose the absolute best zucchini for your needs.
Buying Zucchini: Size Matters
Bigger isn’t always better, as the saying goes, and that goes double for people’s favorite squash, the zucchini. Left in the garden to their own devices, a zucchini can get quite large as they are known to grow 2 inches in a day!
However, the larger it gets, to less flavorful it becomes. In fact, a large zucchini can taste downright bitter. So, when in the produce section, only search out zucchini’s that are small zucchini’s if you’re using them to complement a meal. However, if you’re looking to craft a stuffed zucchini for instance, then go for the larger ones.
In other words, the size of zucchini depends on what you intend to do with it.
Large Zucchini: A Winner for Baked Goods, Stuffed, and Zoodles
A large zucchini can measure up to 3 feet. These big boys are perfect for making stuffed zucchini, Zapple pie, even cake! Don’t forget the nutritious seeds found in large zucchini’s.
Roasted zucchini seeds are tasty, crisp, and healthy additions to your diet. Last but not least, you can use the large zucchini for making zoodles!
Small Zucchini: Tender, Savory and Succulent Side Dish
Small zucchini’s are generally harvested when they reach 6 to 10 inches in length, 2 inches in diameter. These are the ones you wish to choose if you’re using them as a side or main dish. In fact, many people find their tender flesh and soft skin so delectable, that they eat the smaller ones raw. When it comes to buying zucchini, these are the ones you’ll most likely want to purchase.
Color: Is it Vibrant?
When buying zucchini you’ll come across three colors: White, yellow or green. No matter which color you choose, only buy the zucchini if the color is bold and vivid, versus pale and weak.
As a side note, most cooks use the different colors interchangeably when it comes to cooking, with the yellow giving a slightly nutty flavor.
Stems: A Sure Sign of Longevity
If you have the choice of two beautiful zucchini’s, choose the one with the largest stem. Large stems mean the zucchini will last longer in the fridge. This is important if you’re planning on using the zucchini in a few day’s time, and not immediately.
Just make sure the stem doesn’t show signs of age by being dry and shriveled. If your grocer stocks zucchini with the stems sheered off, then make sure the area is not dried, brown, or damaged.
Skin: Glossy or Dull?
Pick up your zucchini of choice. Does it have a firm skin? If so then it’s a good one. Steer clear of zucchini’s that are soft or mushy with a dull skin. Skin should be glossy and prickly to the touch.
It also goes without saying to avoid any of the smaller zucchini’s which have blemishes. As for the larger ones, you can expect some blemishes.
Season: Year Round!
The zucchini is known as the “summer squash” due to its growing season: May to August. However, these days it can be found in grocery stores year-round. This is due to it being grown in temperate climates with rapid harvesting and shipping to local grocers.
Price: Organic or Inorganic?
The price of zucchini’s is influenced by the season, size, location of the grocer, and whether it’s organic or inorganic. When in season the prices will be at their lowest.
According to howmuchisit.org, zucchini prices can range from $1 to $3 per pound. For instance, they found that at Kroger, zucchini was priced at $1.49/lb or $2.29/lb for the organic ones.
Where to Buy Zucchini’s
This flavorful little vegetable can be found year around, throughout the United States. If you’ve a Farmers Market in your area, you’ll probably find the best of the lot there. Additionally, all grocers should carry this little powerhouse.
But that’s not all, did you know you can buy zucchini’s online? Well, you can, and we’ve added a few links below, to help you get started:
USDA Recommendations for Zucchini
For those of you buying zucchini, who are looking for an in-depth, detailed discussion, then the USDA guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn about tolerances, different grades, and the overall health of the zucchini.
While not the most flamboyant of vegetables, the noble summer squash is most certainly one of the most utilized. Its mouthwatering, juicy flesh is easy to digest, loaded with nutrients, and other health benefits.
Easy to prepare, it’s the perfect vegetable for both new cooks and experienced chefs alike. The vast variety of culinary masterpieces which can be crafted from this summer squash are plenty indeed, with everything from dessert cakes to zoodles to stuffed main courses.
We hope you enjoyed our little foray into the world of the zucchini, and hope it’s made buying zucchini’s easier for you.