All Those Zucchinis

Most gardeners who grow summer squash usually end up with so many and so large fruits that they can’t even get rid of them in the trash pickup. We sneak them onto the neighbor’s porch at night. Our family and friends start avoiding us for fear of their obligation of taking more squash.
Years ago a group of gardening friends even got together at a local pond to do zucchini boat races. We carved out those huge fruits (that somehow avoid our scrutiny to appear out of nowhere) into boats that we hoped would float. Most immediately sank; others were swamped in the waves of a light breeze; and one floated long enough to become the winner. There just has to be better ways of dealing with this dilemma.
Over the years my wife, Karen, and I have come to a couple of conclusions. Eat them earlier and/or freeze them.
We think that you cannot harvest summer squash early enough, especially earlier in the season. Life on this planet really only has one goal – to reproduce. Once a plant has produced fruit that is maturing it starts backing off from producing more fruits, so by continually harvesting fruits you are postponing that maturing process. Karen and I harvest summer squash even before it flowers! Such fresh, tender, young fruits (and flowers) are especially great in stir fry, steamed, on pizza, etc., and the smaller fruits are more easily used up. We harvest about every other day to keep up with the crooknecks, straight necks, patty pan, and especially zucchinis. Because we prefer these smaller fruits we plant (or transplant) plants to stand closer together to “dwarf” them a bit through competition for water and nutrients.
Regardless, everyone misses fruits from time to time, only to discover them later when they have grown to almost enormous proportions. Towards the end of the season when we (and everyone else) have grown truly tired of summer squash, we intentionally leave some fruits to grow larger for grading and freezing. Few things are as great as baked goods like breads and brownies with grated zucchini to make them more moist later on after the snow has fallen and the garden is “sleeping”. Grated summer squash can be added to almost anything from soup to casseroles.
To freeze squash we simply put the grated, large, un-skinned fruit into Ziploc-type bags, and add enough water so that all of the air can be squeezed out. To make it easier to get the air and excess air out we zip the bag ¾ closed, roll the bag to push the air/water out the ¼ opening before closing it. We double-wrap the bag in freezer paper sealed with freezer tape, and label with a Sharpie pen, including the date. To freeze un-grated squash, use only fresh squash cut into large pieces or smaller fruits left whole. Again, be sure to add enough water to completely cover the squash while squeezing out as much air and water as possible through the corner of the bag by rolling it towards the slight opening at the top.
Hey, I’m still up for zucchini boats though. Anyone up for that? It’s fun!!


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