Monday, May 23, 2011

The Life and Times of a Zucchini

Zucchini plants are kind of a flash in the pan, at least for us.  I planted them by seed in late January or early February, got them in the ground a few weeks later and started harvest maybe in mid April.  And I'll probably give them another week before I rip them out.  Powdery mildew got pretty bad a couple weeks ago.  I didn't even try to do anything for it because I knew the pickleworm would be moving in and devouring all my squash.  In other years I've held them back a bit with bagging and Sevin, but this year... well, I don't think I have it in me to bag and Sevin will kill my bees.  So I'm resigned to losing my squash a bit sooner than usual.  But here's what I've done with it all:

1)  I pick the nice sized ones for a meal the day they will be eaten.

2) If they get a little bigger, I pick them for pickles and store them in the fridge for a week  or so.

3) If I miss them until they're monstrous, I shred them through the food processor and freeze them in 2 cups quantities for breads and muffins.

So I've got about 6 bags frozen, about 2 gallons of pickles canned, but the okra and beans aren't quite ready to take over daily veggie requirements just yet.  Pickleworms haven't found my cucumbers yet so maybe they'll float us for a bit longer.

If you're interested in pickling those excess zucchinis, this is my grandmother's recipe:

 I slice the zucchini somewhat thinly, but not so much that it folds easily.  And lest you think I actually have the patience and ability to do such a feat with a knife, view the handy dandy device I inherited from my grandma.
 This baby is adjustable to any thickness and makes it quite easy to slice away beautifully.  After everything is sliced, soak the zucchini in very salty water for 3-6 hours.  I use about a quarter cup of salt to a gallon of water.
 Then mix 2 cups white vinegar, 2 cups sugar, 1 Tbsp pickling spice and 1 tsp tumeric in a pot and bring to boil.  Take an empty, hot, sterilized jar and pack it tightly with zucchini slices.  Pour hot vinegar mixture over the top.  Poke the zucchini around with a butterknife or chopstick to get air bubbles out.  Leave a half inch headspace.  Cover and return to the canner for 5 minutes.  I'll use several batches of the vinegar mix to get through the amount of zucchini pictured, but you can't really know exactly how much you'll need so just make it one batch at a time.
These were my favorite pickles that my grandma would make.  She would bring down several jars just for me when she'd come visit us from Minnesota.  Except she cut her zucchini with a french fry cutter and died the brine dark green.  So the pickles were perfectly square and emerald green.  I've adapted it for both health and consumption purposes.  No one needs dies in their diet and the flat slices make them quite nice on sandwiches.

And my favorite zucchini baked goods recipes are:

Zucchini Brownies (no really, they're good):
1/2 cup coconut oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla until well blended.  Combine flour, cocoa baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture.  Fold in zucchini and walnuts.  Spread evenly into a greased and floured 9x13" pan.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Frosting: Melt together 6 Tbsp cocoa and 1/4 cup butter and allow to cool.  Blend together 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla.  Stir in cocoa mixture.  Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

For Zucchini bread:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tso baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 cup oil

Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg.  In another bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients.  Stir into the dry mixture.  Pour into greased bread pan and bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Nice vintage mandolin slicer! Brownies sound divine and pickles look so scrumptious!!!!