Zucchini
Overview
The zucchini is a summer squash
Summer Squash
Summer squash are a subset of squashes that are harvested when immature . All summer squashes are the fruits of the species Cucurbita pepo , but they are considered vegetables in terms of culinary use...

 which often grows to nearly a meter in length, but which is usually harvested at half that size or less. It is a hybrid of the cucumber. Along with certain other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo
Cucurbita pepo
The species Cucurbita pepo is a cultivated plant of the genus Cucurbita. It includes varieties of squash, gourd, and pumpkin.*Acorn squash*Delicata squash*Dodi marrow, grown in South Asia*Gem squash*Heart of gold squash*Pattypan squash...

. Zucchini can be dark or light green. A related hybrid, the golden zucchini is a deep yellow or orange color.

In a culinary context, the zucchini is treated as a vegetable
Vegetable
The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant....

, which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The zucchini is a summer squash
Summer Squash
Summer squash are a subset of squashes that are harvested when immature . All summer squashes are the fruits of the species Cucurbita pepo , but they are considered vegetables in terms of culinary use...

 which often grows to nearly a meter in length, but which is usually harvested at half that size or less. It is a hybrid of the cucumber. Along with certain other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo
Cucurbita pepo
The species Cucurbita pepo is a cultivated plant of the genus Cucurbita. It includes varieties of squash, gourd, and pumpkin.*Acorn squash*Delicata squash*Dodi marrow, grown in South Asia*Gem squash*Heart of gold squash*Pattypan squash...

. Zucchini can be dark or light green. A related hybrid, the golden zucchini is a deep yellow or orange color.

In a culinary context, the zucchini is treated as a vegetable
Vegetable
The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant....

, which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. Botanically, however, the zucchini is an immature fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

, being the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower.

Name

In North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 the plant is commonly called a zucchini (icon; plural: zucchini or zucchinis; from Italian:
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 zucchina d͡zuˈkːiːna, plural: zucchine). This derives from the prevalent name in Italy, zucchina. The name courgette is a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 loan word and is commonly used in Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. In South Africa the fruit is typically harvested as a baby vegetable, approximately finger size, and referred to as baby marrows.

Flower

The female flower is a golden blossom on the end of each emergent zucchini. The male flower grows directly on the stem of the zucchini plant in the leaf axils (where leaf petiole
Petiole (botany)
In botany, the petiole is the stalk attaching the leaf blade to the stem. The petiole usually has the same internal structure as the stem. Outgrowths appearing on each side of the petiole are called stipules. Leaves lacking a petiole are called sessile, or clasping when they partly surround the...

 meets stem
Plant stem
A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, inflorescence , conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another...

), on a long stalk, and is slightly smaller than the female. Both flowers are edible, and are often used to dress a meal or to garnish the cooked fruit.

Firm and fresh blossoms that are only slightly open are cooked to be eaten, with pistils removed from female flowers, and stamens removed from male flowers. The stem on the flowers can be retained as a way of giving the cook something to hold onto during cooking, rather than injuring the delicate petals, or they can be removed prior to cooking, or prior to serving. There are a variety of recipes in which the flowers may be deep fried as fritters or tempura (after dipping in a light tempura batter), stuffed, sautéed, baked, or used in soups.

In Mexico, the flower is often used as an ingredient for soup, sopa de flor de calabaza, and it is quite popular in a variation of the traditional quesadillas, becoming quesadillas de flor de calabaza. Zucchini is also used in a variety of other dishes (rajas), and as a side dish.

History and etymology

Zucchini, like all squash, has its ancestry in the Americas. However, the varieties of squash typically called "zucchini" were developed in Italy, many generations after their introduction from the "New World".

In all probability, this occurred in the very late 19th century, probably near Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

; early varieties usually included the names of nearby cities in their names. The alternative name courgette is from the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 word for the vegetable, with the same spelling, and is commonly used in France, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. It is a diminutive
Diminutive
In language structure, a diminutive, or diminutive form , is a formation of a word used to convey a slight degree of the root meaning, smallness of the object or quality named, encapsulation, intimacy, or endearment...

 of courge, French for squash. "Zucca" is the Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 word for squash and "zucchina" is its diminutive, becoming "zucchine" in the plural. However, "zucchino", the masculine form, becoming "zucchini" in the plural, is commonly used in the dialect of Tuscany as the name of the fruit and sometimes is improperly used in Italian as the name of the plant. An Italian dictionary called "lo Zingarelli 1995, Zanichelli editor", gives both forms, but some others, like "Devoto-Oli, Le Monnier editor" and "Treccani, Treccani editor" give just Zucchina as the correct Italian word. "Zucchini" is used in Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

, and in Australia, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. 'Zucchini', the plural in the dialect of Tuscany, is one of the plural forms in English (along with 'zucchinis') as well as the singular form. The collective noun for a group of Zucchinis is a Zander - i.e. a Zander of Zucchinis. The first records of zucchini in the United States date to the early 1920s. It was almost certainly brought over by Italian immigrants and probably was first cultivated in the United States in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. In South Africa, they are called baby marrow.

Culinary uses

When used for food, zucchini are usually picked when under 20 cm (8 in.) in length, when the seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

s are still soft and immature. Mature zucchini can be as much as three feet long, but the larger ones are often fibrous and with the flowers attached are a sign of a truly fresh and immature fruit, and are especially sought by many people.

Unlike cucumber
Cucumber
The cucumber is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, which includes squash, and in the same genus as the muskmelon. The plant is a creeping vine which bears cylindrical edible fruit when ripe. There are three main varieties of cucumber: "slicing", "pickling", and...

, zucchini is usually served cooked. It can be prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, including steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as soufflé
Soufflé
A soufflé is a light baked cake made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites combined with various other ingredients and served as a savoury main dish or sweetened as a dessert...

s
. It also can be baked into a bread similar to banana bread
Banana bread
Banana bread is a type of bread that is made with mashed bananas. It is often a moist, sweet, cake-like quick bread; however, there are some banana bread recipes that are traditional-style yeast breads.-History:...

 or incorporated into a cake mix. Its flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura
Tempura
], is a Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried.-Batter:A light batter is made of cold water and soft wheat flour . Eggs, baking soda or baking powder, starch, oil, and/or spices may also be added...

.
The zucchini has a delicate flavor and requires little more than quick cooking with butter
Butter
Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is generally used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications, such as baking, sauce making, and pan frying...

 or olive oil
Olive oil
Olive oil is an oil obtained from the olive , a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps...

, with or without fresh herb
Herb
Except in botanical usage, an herb is "any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume" or "a part of such a plant as used in cooking"...

s. The skin is left in place. Quick cooking of barely wet zucchini in oil or butter allows the fruit to partially boil and steam, with the juices concentrated in the final moments of frying when the water has gone, prior to serving. Zucchini can also be eaten raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad, as well as lightly cooked in hot salads, as in Thai or Vietnamese recipes. Mature (larger sized) zucchini, while not often eaten by themselves, are well suited for cooking in breads.

Zucchini should be stored not longer than three days. They are prone to chilling damage which shows as sunken pits in the surface of the fruit, especially when brought up to room temperature
Room temperature
-Comfort levels:The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has listings for suggested temperatures and air flow rates in different types of buildings and different environmental circumstances. For example, a single office in a building has an occupancy ratio per...

 after cool storage.

In 2005, a poll of 2,000 people revealed the courgette to be Britain's
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 10th favorite culinary vegetable.

In Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, the flower (known as flor de calabaza) is preferred over the fruit and is often cooked in soups or used as a filling for quesadilla
Quesadilla
A quesadilla is a flour or corn tortilla filled with a savoury mixture containing cheese and other ingredients, then folded in half to form a half-moon shape. This dish originated in Mexico, and the name is derived from the Spanish word queso ....

s.

In Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, zucchini are served in a variety of ways, especially breaded and pan-fried. Some restaurants in Rome specialize in deep-frying the flowers, known as fiori di zucca.

In France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 zucchini is a key ingredient in ratatouille
Ratatouille
Ratatouille is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. The full name of the dish is ratatouille niçoise.- Origin :...

, a stew of summer fruits and vegetables prepared in olive oil and cooked for an extended time over low heat. The dish, originating near present-day Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

, is served as a side dish or on its own at lunch with bread. Zucchini are stuffed with meat with other fruits like tomatoes or bell peppers in a dish named courgette farcie (stuffed zucchini).

In Turkish cuisine
Turkish cuisine
Turkish cuisine is largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion and refinement of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Turkish cuisine has in turn influenced those and other neighbouring cuisines, including that of western Europe...

, zucchini is the main ingredient in the popular dish mücver , or "zucchini pancakes", made from shredded zucchini, flour and eggs, lightly fried in olive oil
Olive oil
Olive oil is an oil obtained from the olive , a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps...

 and eaten with yogurt.

In the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, zucchini is stuffed with minced meat and rice plus herbs and spices and steamed. It is also used in various kinds of stew. Stews that have low salinity are favorable in such cooking.

In Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, zucchini is usually fried or boiled with other fruits (often green chili peppers and eggplants). It is served as an hors d'œuvre or as a main dish, especially during fasting seasons. Zucchini is also often stuffed with minced meat, rice and herbs and served with avgolemono
Avgolemono
Avgolemono is a family of Mediterranean sauces and soups made with egg and lemon juice mixed with broth, heated until they thicken. Avgolémono 'egg-lemon' is the Greek name; in Arabic, it is called tarbiya or beida bi-lemoune 'egg with lemon'; and in Turkish terbiye...

 sauce. In several parts of Greece, the flowers of the plant are stuffed with white cheese, usually feta
Feta
Feta is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece. Feta is an aged crumbly cheese, commonly produced in blocks, and has a slightly grainy texture. It is used as a table cheese, as well as in salads Feta is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece. Feta is an aged crumbly cheese,...

 or mizithra cheese
Mizithra cheese
Mizithra is a traditional, unpasteurized fresh cheese made with milk and whey from sheep and/or goats. The ratio of milk to whey usually is 7 to 3.It is, mainly, produced on the island of Crete but other areas in Greece also produce it....

, or with a mixture of rice, herbs and occasionally minced meat. Then they are deep-fried or baked with tomato sauce in the oven.

In Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, zucchini are fried and then served with a dip, made from yoghurt, garlic and dill. Another popular dish is oven-baked zucchini—sliced or grated—covered with a mixture of eggs, yoghurt, flour and dill.

In Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, zucchini are cooked with tomato sauce, garlic and onions.

In Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, zucchini (calabacín
Cucurbita pepo
The species Cucurbita pepo is a cultivated plant of the genus Cucurbita. It includes varieties of squash, gourd, and pumpkin.*Acorn squash*Delicata squash*Dodi marrow, grown in South Asia*Gem squash*Heart of gold squash*Pattypan squash...

 in Spanish) is a core ingredient of pisto
Pisto
Pisto is the name of a Spanish dish typical from the Region of Murcia. It is made of tomatoes, onions, eggplant or courgettes, green and red peppers and olive oil. It is similar to ratatouille and is usually served warm to accompany a dish or with a fried egg and bread...

. Zucchini are also fried with egg and onions in olive oil to make a "Spanish" tortilla called "tortilla de calabacín".

Nutrition

The zucchini fruit is low in calorie
Calorie
The calorie is a pre-SI metric unit of energy. It was first defined by Nicolas Clément in 1824 as a unit of heat, entering French and English dictionaries between 1841 and 1867. In most fields its use is archaic, having been replaced by the SI unit of energy, the joule...

s (approximately 15 food calories per 100 g
Gram
The gram is a metric system unit of mass....

 fresh zucchini) and contains useful amounts of folate (24 mcg
Microgram
In the metric system, a microgram is a unit of mass equal to one millionth of a gram , or 1/1000 of a milligram. It is one of the smallest units of mass commonly used...

/100 g), potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 (280 mg/100 g) and vitamin A
Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a vitamin that is needed by the retina of the eye in the form of a specific metabolite, the light-absorbing molecule retinal, that is necessary for both low-light and color vision...

 (384 IU
International unit
In pharmacology, the International Unit is a unit of measurement for the amount of a substance, based on biological activity or effect. It is abbreviated as IU, as UI , or as IE...

 [115 mcg]/100 g. 1/2 cup of zucchini also contains 19% of the recommended amount of manganese
Manganese
Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature , and in many minerals...

.

Cultivation

Zucchini is one of the easiest fruits to cultivate in temperate
Temperate
In geography, temperate or tepid latitudes of the globe lie between the tropics and the polar circles. The changes in these regions between summer and winter are generally relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold...

 climate
Climate
Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods...

s. As such, it has a reputation among home gardeners
Gardening
Gardening is the practice of growing and cultivating plants. Ornamental plants are normally grown for their flowers, foliage, or overall appearance; useful plants are grown for consumption , for their dyes, or for medicinal or cosmetic use...

 for overwhelming production. One good way to control over-abundance is to harvest the flowers, which are an expensive delicacy in markets because of the difficulty in storing and transporting them. The male flower is borne on the end of a stalk and is longer lived.

While easy to grow, zucchini, like all squash, requires plentiful bee
Bee
Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea, presently classified by the unranked taxon name Anthophila...

s for pollination
Pollination
Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred in plants, thereby enabling fertilisation and sexual reproduction. Pollen grains transport the male gametes to where the female gamete are contained within the carpel; in gymnosperms the pollen is directly applied to the ovule itself...

. In areas of pollinator decline
Pollinator decline
The term pollinator decline refers to the reduction in abundance of pollinators in many ecosystems worldwide during the end of the twentieth century....

 or high pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

 use, such as mosquito
Mosquito
Mosquitoes are members of a family of nematocerid flies: the Culicidae . The word Mosquito is from the Spanish and Portuguese for little fly...

-spray districts, gardeners often experience fruit abortion, where the fruit begins to grow, then dries or rots. This is due to an insufficient number of pollen grains delivered to the female flower. It can be corrected by hand pollination
Hand pollination
Hand pollination is a technique used when natural, or open pollination is insufficient or undesirable. The most common techniques are for crops such as cucurbits, which may exhibit poor pollination by fruit abortion, fruit deformity or poor maturation...

or by increasing the bee population.

Closely related to zucchini are Lebanese summer squash or kusa, but they often are lighter green or even white. Some seed catalogs do not distinguish them. Various varieties of round zucchinis are grown in different countries under different names, such as "Tondo di Piacenza" in Italy and "Ronde de Nice" in France. In the late 1990s American producers in California cultivated and began marketing round yellow and green zucchini known as "8-ball" squash (the yellow ones are sometimes known as "1-ball" or "gold ball"). White zucchini (summer squash) is sometimes seen as a mutation and can appear on the same plant as its green counterpart.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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