Zucchini Selection and Recipe Ideas
Seed Saving Facts:
Scientific Name: Curcubita pepo Common Name: Black Beauty Zucchini
Isolation Distance: 1/4 mile to 2 miles depending on pollinator pressure Population Size: 20 will usually preserve good genetic diversity for squash
Outbreeder, Insect Pollinated, Monoecious ( Male and female flowers on the same plant) These will cross pollinate with any other Curcubita pepo nearby. Common pepos include Spaghetti Squash, Acorn Squash, most summer squashes, some pumpkins, Delicata and more. If you are growing more than one pepo or can't achieve isolation due to what your neighbor is growing consider hand pollination.
After selection we stared into my refrigerator stuffed full of Black Beauty Zucchini and were tempted to drive around town tossing bagfuls into open car windows! Selection for seed savers is the process of only allowing plants with 'right' characteristics to 'go to seed'. Out of our population, we completely removed several plants. The offending plants would have already pollinated surrounding plants, so we picked all pollinated zucchinis. It is best to do this process early in the season as soon as the fruits show themselves. This amounted to a lot of zucchini and the need to use it up. Here are some photos of the process and our recipe ideas for excess zucchini.
The pile of harvested fruits after selection-
Squash Blossom Fritters: We had always heard about these and decided to give it a go. Our basic process was to coat the blossoms with a mixture of egg and beer. We then coated them with spiced and salted flour and straight to the frier. We used about a quarter inch of coconut oil to fry these tasty treats. Sheena's inner gourmet came out on the last batch when she stuffed the blossoms with herbed goat cheese. Delicious.
Brined Sour Zucchini Pickles: We pickled all the very small zucchini in a traditional salt brine with garlic and dill. By using 3 tbsp of sea salt to each quart of water we created a brine solution of about 3.4%. Plenty of dill and garlic also was added. Several grape leaves were added to help preserve the crunchiness which worked really well, don't ask me why. After packing the jar full and pouring the brine over we left them out at room temp to ferment for about a week. They will bubble and it is a good idea to burp the jar every day or so. These turned out to be super delicious and have stored well in the fridge.
Mixed Veggie 'Kim Chi': We cut up turnips, beets, zucchini (of course!) and cabbage. All from the garden except for the cabbage. Mix in sea salt and let sit for a couple of hours. The salt extracts the natural juices from the veggies. I helped this process along by massaging the veggies with my hands. Then I mixed in ground chiles and packed it all into a jar really tightly so the juices rose up over the veggies. Add a little water if there is not enough juice. Leave on the counter for a few days to ferment then transfer to the fridge when the tang suits you. We eat this every day. It is tangy and loaded with good gut bacteria.
Nuk's Chocolate Zucchini Cake: This very fast cake is a good way to use zucchini and is really good! Thanks to my mother-in-law for the recipe.
Mix 3 cups flour and 4 and 1/2 tsp baking powder. Whole wheat flour works well, as does white. Set aside.
Separately combine 1/4 coco powder (last time i made this cake i used chocolate chips instead of coco and melted them with the oil), 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup oil (i use whatever oil i have on hand, usually olive or coconut and it is always great), 3 eggs and 2 tsp vanilla in the mixer.Beat then add 3 cups grated zucchini!
Combine with the dry mix and put in cake tin. I like to make this cake in a bundt tin. Cook for 40 minutes at 320 F. Frost however you like, or not at all. Sorry no photo.