The wonderful zucchini, though one of the easiest garden vegetables to grow, is also one of the most simple vegetables to prep in the kitchen. They are a breeze to chop – thanks to their tender skins – and incredibly versatile because of their mild and sweet flavour. We love it spiralized into a spaghetti alternative, dressed-up as a vegetarian main dish, and baked into bread or dessert. Zucchini really is this summer’s jack-of-all-trades! Here are 10 things you might not know about zucchini:
- Zucchini shares parents with the watermelon. As members of the Cucurbitaceae family, the zucchini (a.k.a. summer squash) is closely related to watermelon, as well as cucumber, pumpkin, and gourds of all types.
- Zucchini is a fruit. Though most often treated as a vegetable (and one of our summer favourites), zucchini is actually a fruit – botanically speaking – and it begins as a gorgeous flower.
- Its flowers are edible. The fruit is ready when the female zucchini flowers. You can harvest the flowers and the swollen zucchini attached to it as soon as you see those orange, yellow petals. The male flowers, however, are produced on long, thin stalks with no such swelling.
- Bigger is not better. When it comes to zucchini, harvesting the plant while immature prevents a too hard and too seedy plant from developing. Young zucchinis have tender rinds and are more edible that way.
- The edible plant was first noted in 1901 in Milan, Italy. This was the earliest known evidence of zucchini, which was not that long ago! Zucchini is a grandchild of a type of squash from Central America. When the European colonization of the Americas started, they were brought to Europe where their cultivation began.
- The word zucchini means small gourd. The green Italian squash was once used as a reference to the small, desiccated squash used as a container for tobacco before it became an edible resource. By the 1840s, the Tuscan word zucchini was appropriated to small gourd.
- France originally snubbed the zucchini (a.k.a courgette) as a food source. When zucchini first popularized in Europe, the French did not accept the vegetable/fruit because it was considered too bland and watery. Maybe their minds changed after the famed culinary dish from Provence, ratatouille, became commonplace. And Julia Child made it that much more popular abroad with her beloved Tian de Courgettes au Riz.
- 1 medium zucchini has more potassium than 1 medium banana. We are also in shock! Maybe we will see tennis players swapping their game fuel for zucchinis in the future (it is local after all!).
- The largest zucchini ever grown is taller than Michael Jordan. 8ft 3 inches is the height of the tallest zucchini documented. This record is from farmer, Giovanni Scozzofavin in 2014 in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
- Zucchini is the only fruit that begins with “z”. Nothing to add here. Just a fun fact.
Fun Fact #2: Grilling zucchini at high heat gives your zucchini a chance to caramelize nicely without losing too much of its water content. This way of cooking helps the zucchini to absorb intense marinades like in this Marinated Zucchini and Grilled Chicken Bites!