Which exotic foods are actually delicious?

Tender, tasty and versatile

The zucchini is a miniature pumpkin because it belongs to the cucurbit family. The green cucumber-like fruit can be prepared in a variety of ways, whether raw in a salad, grated in a cake, grilled or baked. It is also healthy because it is rich in vitamin B1, carotene and potassium, but low in calories.

The zucchinis originally comes from the giant pumpkin. He is also responsible for the naming, because "Zucchini" is the diminutive of Zucca, the Italian word for pumpkin.

In Germany, zucchini did not become popular until the 1970s. The well-known green-colored zucchini is mainly offered in stores. But there are also other variants that can be striped yellow, speckled, completely white or yellow.

Where does the zucchini come from?

Zucchini was already at home in Central and South America 8000 years ago. The zucchini found its way to Europe about 300 years ago. Due to the mild climate, the zucchinis grew particularly well in southern Europe. This is why a zucchini tradition has developed in Italy with a wide range of products. Newly harvested zucchini, so-called mini or baby zucchini, are popular throughout the Mediterranean region.

This type of zucchini must not be confused with the rondini. The rondini also belongs to the cucurbit family, but is at home in the subtropics of Asia and Africa. Unlike zucchini, this small, round fruit cannot be eaten raw.

Why is the zucchini so healthy?

The meat of the zucchini has a nutty taste, is easy to digest and therefore easy to digest. The zucchini is rich in vitamins, especially carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2. The main minerals are potassium, calcium and iron. At 19 kcal / 100g, the zucchini is very low in calories.

Why do zucchinis sometimes taste bitter?

The toxic ingredient cucurbitacin is responsible for the bitter taste. This substance was bred from the edible forms of the cucurbits, but not from ornamental pumpkins. The cucurbitacin can get back into the cultivated form if zucchini and ornamental gourds are grown together and this enables uncontrolled backcrossing. The formation of the bitter substance is favored by cultivation problems and seed deficiencies (e.g. dryness, insufficient plant care). Zucchinis should be harvested no more than 20-30 centimeters in length, as the cucurbitacin content increases as they ripen and grow. Sensitive people react to cucurbitacin with vomiting and diarrhea.

How can zucchinis be used?

Young fruits can be used up to the stem base. Since the kernels of large older fruits are usually very large and hard, it is better to remove them.

Zucchini are particularly tasty when they are picked up to a length of 10 to 20 centimeters. But they can also reach the size of pumpkins. The preferred harvest time is from June to October.

Zucchini can be prepared in many ways:

  • raw (e.g. in a salad),
  • steamed, boiled, fried, gratinated.
  • filled or sliced.
  • The best way to fry zucchinis is to use olive oil, as it goes well with the delicate taste of the pulp.
  • Cakes with grated zucchinis are particularly juicy.
  • Zucchini flowers are not only suitable for decorating a salad. They can also be eaten as they are edible.

What should you watch out for during storage?

Fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of water should not be refrigerated. This also includes zucchinis. In a cool and dark environment, they stay fresh for about three to five days. They should be stored separately from tomatoes or apples, as these secrete the "ripening gas" ethylene, which makes the zucchinis age faster.

Do you fancy your own zucchinis?

The zucchini plant loves the warmth, which is why it grows particularly well in sunny and sheltered locations. After the last night frosts - around mid-May - the zucchini plants, grown from seeds or bought, are placed in nutrient-rich soil. Zucchini plants take up a lot of space, around one square meter. You also need plenty of water on a regular basis. When watering, water should, if possible, not get on the leaves in order to avoid fungal attack.

The first fruits can be harvested around four to six weeks after planting. The optimal harvest time is around 15-20 centimeters in length, as the fruits are then tender in taste. In addition, early and frequent harvesting increases the yield.

By the way: If you are limited on space, climbing zucchinis are a good alternative. They grow up to two meters tall and can have up to 30 fruits.

Status: May 2019