Squashing the Season

Zucchinis have a way of growing – and growing, and growing – hidden by undergrowth while you tend to the rest of the garden. Any variety can be used for stuffin

In front of an Agway store in Montpelier, Vermont, a sign announces “World’s Largest Zucchini Here.” The grower, store employee Ron Sholtz, told WCAX News on Sept. 28 that his state record 115-pound specimen is currently the largest zucchini on planet Earth, according to an unnamed international body that keeps track of such things.

His green, warty cylinder sits massively on a sturdy, hay-strewn table, a reminder of the intense power of a zucchini plant – the same unstoppable growth force that fuels a zucchini’s takeover of your garden. By the time the zucchini is big enough to trip over, your options are limited. But unlike Sholtz, whose large conversation piece is, in the end, nothing but pig food, if you have a zucchini that is up to the size of a baseball bat, your big specimen can still find a little purpose in a loaf of zucchini bread.

To be clear, a large zucchini has less flavor, more bitterness, a tougher peel, and large woody seeds. You could feed a small city if you could only get someone to eat it.

Things being how they are, there is no shame in bailing on an overgrown zucchini. You owe nothing to each other. But if you have the freezer space, and a desire to bake zucchini bread through the winter, then bust out the kitchen grater and save that monstrosity in a form that could be of use down the road. Peel and seed your large zucchini until you are left with nothing but solid white flesh, and grate it through the grater’s largest holes. (With zucchini smaller than a wine bottle, skip the peeling and seeding.)

Add a half-teaspoon of salt for each pound of zucchini. Mix together, wait 15 minutes and then squeeze out as much water as you can, either in a colander or nut milk bag, and freeze the grated zucchini in an airtight freezer bag, with no air pockets and flat enough to stack neatly and efficiently in the freezer. That pound of zucchini will yield about a cup of grated product, ready to give body to your muffins, or perhaps a savory soup.

Meanwhile, the season of fresh zucchini isn’t over yet. At one friend’s farm, October is zucchini stuffing month. She invented this recipe to cook awkwardly large quantities of anything.

Inside Out Stuffed Zucchini, as she originally called it, evolved to include sage and chicken stock and other stuffing flavorings, so it tastes like something that was cooked inside a bird for hours. It has that richness, even without gravy.

If you want to put this exact combination inside a real bird, I don’t think anyone would complain. But as is, it feels like you’re eating Thanksgiving leftovers, long before Halloween.

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