Gardeners are always trying to find new ways to use an abundance of zucchini, especially when the squash get too big. It is easy to overlook zucchini beneath the plant’s big leaves. Occasionally, I’ve picked zucchini that had grown to the size of baseball bats.
All types of summer squash are best when they are harvested while small and tender. They should be unblemished and have a slightly shiny surface. When the squash reaches a medium size, they can be grated and used in baked recipes. Large squash are best fed to the neighbor’s pigs.
A good indicator of the squash’s maturity is If the rind is hard and cannot be scratched easily with a fingernail. Overly mature squash can become stringy and slightly bitter. At that point, is too old to use for frying or in recipes like Ratatouille. The rind can be removed, and the interior flesh can be used for baking, if necessary.
I prefer small summer squash, because the tender skin and seeds can be grated for a recipe. The skin contains most of the fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Fortunately, the early zucchini season is over. They produced an exceptional crop, but the plants were getting ragged. My husband cut them down last week.
I still have an heirloom round summer squash that is producing baseball-size orbs. I have hollowed them out and filled the cavity with the same meat and rice mixture I use in stuffed peppers. The yellow squash are also producing well.
Yellow squash has a thin neck and rounded bottom. Some varieties have straight necks and look like light bulbs, while others are curved and resemble a swan’s neck. Yellow squash can have a smooth or bumpy surface. Inside, the flesh is creamy white and filled with seeds.
Yellow squash can be used the same way one would use zucchini. Squash bread is a nice summer treat, and any of the summer squashes can be used alone or in combination. Shredded squash makes a bread that is very moist and is great for breakfast, dessert or snacking.
Summer squash breads are easy to make. The breads are something even children can make with some supervision. You simply grate the squash, mix the ingredients, pour into prepared pans and bake.
I found Pina Colada Yellow Squash Bread is a practical way to put an abundance of squash to good use. It provides fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamins A and C to this sweet treat.
Pina Colada Yellow Squash Bread
4 cups flour
2½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups oil
1 teaspoon each coconut, rum and vanilla extracts
3 cups shredded yellow squash
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Line the bottoms of 3 greased and floured 8-inch-by-4-inch loaf pans with waxed paper and grease the paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and extracts. Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in yellow squash, pineapple and nuts.
Transfer batter to prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes in the pans before removing loaves. Peel off waxed paper and allow breads to cool on wire racks.