Help! Someone left a bag of zucchini on my porch.

If this has happened to you or your garden plants have produced more zucchini than you wanted, don’t despair.

According to the Michigan Availability Guide, zucchini and other Michigan grown squash are available at your local farmer’s market or from your garden from mid-July to mid-September. Zucchini is naturally low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. As with most vegetables, zucchini is also a good source of fiber and is very low in calories. Packed with nutrients, zucchini is a good source of vitamin A and C, as well as some B vitamins such as folic acid, thiamin and B6. Eating zucchini will also help supply you with minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium.

With some help from Michigan State University Extension and the Zucchini Fact Sheet, you can enjoy fresh zucchini and other summer squash while they are in season, and also get tips on how to store excess zucchini.

Zucchini is best picked while it is still small to medium in size. Larger zucchini may be too seedy for many recipes. Zucchini and other summer squash should be stored in your refrigerator for two to three days, unwashed. Wash zucchini under running water just before preparing.

If you’re running out of ideas on how to prepare your zucchini, try one of the following:

  • Sauté thinly sliced zucchini in a tablespoon of canola or olive oil until fork tender. Season lightly with salt and pepper, or try sprinkling with an Italian blend seasoning mixture.
  • Add chopped or diced zucchini to soups or stews. A favorite end of summer stew my family enjoys includes two or three medium diced zucchini, two or three diced fresh tomatoes, kernels cut off two to three ears of corn, and about a medium diced onion. Sauté the veggies along with one pound of lean ground beef. Add one teaspoon of basil, salt and pepper to taste. Once the beef is browned, simmer about 30-40 minutes until the veggies are cooked through. This recipe is a nice way to use up the end of summer veggies.
  • Add grated zucchini to quick breads, cakes or cookies.
  • Try adding grated zucchini to your favorite muffin recipe, for a more nutritious snack.

The next time you find yourself with a bumper crop of zucchini, don’t despair. Try one or more of these suggestions and enjoy zucchini, a summer vegetable fresh from Michigan gardens.

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