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© Paula Trites

Zucchini (Courgettes) are a member of the squash family. They are classified as summer squash.

Zucchini don't really have any flavour by themselves; everything hinges on their getting flavour from how you cook them. When people write: "Zucchini's mild flavour combines well with other flavours", that's code for "not interesting in the least on their own."

Most Zucchini has soft spines along its vines that can irritate most people's skin. For this reason, people tend to wear long sleeves and gloves while harvesting them. Some varieties have been developed that have practically spineless vines, but some critics say the lack of spines can make the vines a bug highway leading to lower quality Zucchinis.

Medium to small Zucchini have a more delicate flavour and are the most tender, so buy these whenever possible. The larger, older ones get a bit more of an acrid or bitter after-taste. Not much, so you'd mind, but if you're looking for it you can detect it, especially as there's not much of any other taste.

If you are going to be using Zucchini raw as crudités or on a veg and dip platter, definitely go for the smallest you can get, as they are more tender, and won't have any bitter after-taste. If, however, you are doing stuffed Zucchini, don't be a martyr: get medium to large ones. When cooked, they will taste great.

To prepare for use, scrub your Zucchini lightly and rise under cold water. Trim off both ends. There is no need to peel or remove seeds. Slice, chunk or grate according to the recipe you are using.


© Paula Trites

A Zucchini is fresh and young if when you bend it, it snaps and breaks rather than just bend.

Occasionally a gardener will have a Zucchini plant that produces bitter fruit. Bitterness in summer squashes not caused by environment, but by a single gene.

It can emerge because of cross-pollination with wild members of the cucurbit family, or it can just be a rare, "occurring on its own" mutation. It won't be noticeable in the fruit produced that year, but in fruit produced from seeds from that fruit. Discard any Zucchini that are really bitter, and don't bother saving the seed, if you were going to.

Cooking Tips

Zucchini has a very high water ratio, so it doesn't need to cook very long. You can boil, steam or microwave it on its own, but how exciting would that be?


Marrow; other summer squashes


Raw Zucchini has 13 calories in half a cup. It also has folic acid, and a good amount of potassium.

Between November 1981 and December 1982, 21 cases of food poisoning were caused in Queensland, Australia by bitter Zucchinis. Even a very small amount (about 3g, less than 1/4 oz) was enough to bring on symptoms within 1 to 2 hours. Though no one died from it, it caused stomach cramps and diarrhoea for up to 3 days. The zucchini in question were probably zucchini from the Blackjack cultivar.


1 pound (450g) Zucchini = 3 medium = 3 1/2 cups sliced = 2 1/2 cups cubed = 2 cups grated, packed

1 medium Zucchini = 150g / 5 oz

Storage Hints

Refrigerate for up to 5 days unwashed in crisper or in a plastic bag (preferably one of those ones with holes in it).

For freezing, there is no need to blanch or peel. Wash. Shred, let drain in colander (even squishing a bit to get excess water out, otherwise it will go very soggy in the freezer and be even more uninteresting.) Place in freezer bags, freeze for up to 6 months.

To freeze slices, chop into 1/2 inch (1 cm) slices, blanch for 3 minutes. Plunge in cold water, drain, package, and freeze.

History Notes

Some varieties of zucchini are yellow

Some varieties of
zucchini are yellow
- © Denzil Green

Zucchini originated in Central America, and were brought back to Europe by the Spanish.

It was the Italians who really took a shine to them (come to think of it, it was the Italians who were really adventurous with all this New World stuff: tomatoes, squash, the new bean varieties, corn, etc).

The Italians patiently bred them until the Zucchini we know today developed, and then brought their fondness for it when they immigrated to North America.

Literature & Lore

"The first Zucchini I ever saw I killed it with a hoe." -- John Gould (American author and humourist, born 10/22/1908. From Monstrous Depravity, published 1963).

Two women in an airport waiting lounge start chatting while waiting for their flights. One woman says that she's from such a small town that no one ever locks their cars -- except in the summer. The other says, "I suppose crime must increase in the tourist season". "Oh, no," says the first woman -- "It's just that otherwise someone might come and fill it with zucchini."

Language Notes

The Italians called a Zucchini a "zucchino". Zucchini is the plural. Italian immigrants brought their liking and their word for Zucchini to North America, and popularized both. Zucchini is actually already plural in Italian, but the English plural of it is "Zucchinis" anyway.

The British and the French call them "Courgettes".


Herrington, Mark E. Intense Bitterness in Commercial Zucchini. In Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report No. 6 (1983). Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.

See also:


Albarello di Sarzana Zucchini; Amalthée Zucchini; Ambassador Zucchini; Apollo Zucchini; Aquarius Zucchini; Aristocrat Zucchini; Baked Tuna, Zucchini and Spinach Pasta Recipe; Bianco di Trieste Zucchini; Black Beauty Zucchini; Black Eagle Zucchini; Black Forest Zucchini; Black Zucchini; Blackini Zucchini; Blackjack Zucchini; Blanche de Virginie Zucchini; Bolognese Zucchini; Born Free Zucchini; Bou Tozzina Zucchini; Burpee Golden Zucchini; Butterblossom Zucchini; Butterstick Zucchini; Caserta Zucchini; Cashflow Zucchini; Castle Black Zucchini; Castlejade Zucchini; Chairman Zucchini; Chefini Zucchini; Ciclon Zucchini; Cocozelle Zucchini; Condor Zucchini; Consul Zucchini; Contessa Zucchini; Corsair Zucchini; Cousa Zucchini; Cozzini Zucchini; Custard White Zucchini; Dark Star Zucchini; Daytona Zucchini; Declaration II Zucchini; Defender Zucchini; Diplomat Zucchini; Dividend Zucchini; Dundoo Zucchini; Dusk Zucchini; Eclipse Zucchini; Eight Ball Zucchini; El Greco Zucchini; Eldorado Zucchini; Elini Zucchini; Elite Zucchini; Emperor Zucchini; Excel Zucchini; Falcon Zucchini; Feta and Zucchini Fritters Recipe; Fordhook Zucchini; Forzini Hybrid Zucchini; Gemma Zucchini; Genie Zucchini; Genovese Zucchini; Gentry Zucchini; Geode Zucchini; Glory II Zucchini; Golden Dawn III Zucchini; Golden Dawn Zucchini; Golden Scallop Zucchini; Goldfinger Zucchini; Goldrush Zucchini; Green Eclipse Zucchini; Green Magic Zucchini; Greenzini Zucchini; Greyzini Zucchini; Hurricane Zucchini; Hyzina Zucchini; Ipanema Zucchini; Jackpot Zucchini; Jade Zucchini; Jemmer Zucchini; Justice III Zucchini; Kojac Zucchini; Kriti Zucchini; Lancer Zucchini; Largo Zucchini; Lunga Bianco Zucchini; Lungo Bianco di Sicilia Zucchini; Lungo di Firenze Zucchini; Midnight Express Zucchini; Midnight Zucchini; Moctezuma Zucchini; Neptune Zucchini; Nero di Milano Zucchini; Noblesse Zucchini; Novodiamant Zucchini; Onyx Zucchini; Ortolana di Faenza Zucchini; Parthenon Zucchini; Patriot II Zucchini; Pavo Zucchini; Picasso Zucchini; Puma Zucchini; Raven Zucchini; Rebel Yell Zucchini; Revenue Zucchini; Richgreen Zucchini; Rocky Gold Zucchini; Romanesco Zucchini; Ronde de Nice Zucchini; Rugosa of Friuli Zucchini; Salerno Zucchini; San Pasquale Zucchini; Seasons Zucchini; Sebring Zucchini; Senator Zucchini; Seneca Gourmet Zucchini; Seneca Zucchini; Storr's Green Hybrid Zucchini; Striato of Naples Zucchini; Striato Pugliese Zucchini; Summer Ball Zucchini; Sungreen Zucchini; Sure Thing Zucchini; Sweet Zuke Zucchini; Tondo di Piacenza Zucchini; Tondo Nizza Zucchini; Venus Zucchini; Verde di Milano Zucchini; White Lebanese Zucchini; White Volunteer Zucchini; Zebra Zuke Zucchini; Zuboda Zucchini; Zucchini Blossoms; Zucchini Bread Day; Zucchini; Zuke; Zukit Zucchini

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Also called:

Courgette; Cucurbita pepo var. medullosa (Scientific Name); (French); Calabacines (Spanish)


Oulton, Randal. "Zucchini." CooksInfo.com. Published 12 April 2001; revised 18 February 2011. Web. Accessed 05/21/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/zucchini>.

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