Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Zucchini for Days: What To Do When You’ve Got a Ton of Zucchini

bundle of zucchini
What can you do when you have too much zucchini? A whole lot, it turns out!
Image: Shutterstock
So. I have a teeny problem. Well, okay… a great big problem. You see, this year, I started my first in-earnest gardening season. I have three raised beds, and I’ve filled them all with what I hope will be delicious homegrown fruits and veggies. I’ve got beets, chard, onion, beans, peas, strawberries, raspberries, artichokes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, blueberries… and WAY TOO MUCH ZUCCHINI!

You see, when I first moved in to my new place, I saw an adorable little broad-leafed seedling poking up amongst the weeds in the raised beds. One I pulled everything else out, I took (what I thought was) a close look at the little guy. Then, I went to the store and looked for a similar plant to see if I could figure out what it was. The answer, or so I thought: cucumber. I even found an old cucumber plant care tag in the soil.

“Perfect,” I thought. “I love cucumber! You know what else I love? Zucchini. Oh, look, I’ll buy this adorable zucchini plant to go with my cucumbers!” So I did. I planted the zucchini I bought and started caring in earnest for the rogue cucumber plant in the garden. Pretty soon, a second plant popped up. “Yay!” I thought. “More cucumbers! I’ll learn how to make pickles!”

This is where my problems started. You see, I had no idea how quickly both cucumber and zucchini plants go from tiny and adorable to taking up your entire garden. Lacking foresight, I planted lots of other things near the plants. When it became obvious the three large plants were too close to each other, I moved the zucchini over to the other bed. “Phew,” I thought. “Crisis averted!”

Then the blossoms started. They are so bright, enormous, and stunning when they bloom in the morning. But something wasn’t quite right. The cucumber plant was getting way bigger than it should have, and the cucumbers were looking rather large… and zucchini-like. Too zucchini-like.

And now you’ve guessed it – the “cucumber” plants are not cucumbers at all. They are also zucchini plants. And the problem with zucchini, besides how much space they take up? It’s how much zucchini just one plant will produce (especially in fertile soil). I’ve got at least 15 blossoms on each of the plants, and more pop up every day. That’s a heck of a lot of zucchini for three people to eat.

So, now I’ve been on the lookout for ideas on what to do with zucchini. Of course, I plan to freeze some, as well as give a lot of it to neighbors and coworkers—but I’m sure we’ll still have a ton of it all summer long.

Here are some of my favorite ideas for using up excess zucchini – just in case any of you have my same problem or just happen to love zucchini!

Did you know you can also make some pretty rad desserts from zucchini? Check out these magnificent sounding zucchini desserts:

Not seeing something you love? Check out some more options for zucchini at The Kitchn, one of my all-time favorite resources for recipes!