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Zucchini Facts for Kids


Zucchini or courgette is a summer squash which can reach nearly a meter in length, but which is usually harvested at half that size or less. Zucchini can be dark or light green. In a culinary context, zucchini is treated as a vegetable; it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment.

  • Zucchini, like all squash, has its ancestry in the Americas.
  • However, the varieties of squash typically called “zucchini” were developed in Italy, many generations after their introduction from the Americas.
  • In South Africa, the fruit is typically harvested as a baby vegetable, approximately finger size, and is referred to as “baby marrows”.
  • The male flower grows directly on the stem of the zucchini plant in the leaf axils (where leaf petiole meets stem), on a long stalk, and is slightly smaller than the female.
  • Firm and fresh blossoms that are only slightly open are cooked to be eaten, with pistils removed from female flowers, and stamens removed from male flowers.
  • The stems on the flowers can be retained as a way of giving the cook something to hold onto during cooking, rather than injuring the delicate petals, or they can be removed prior to cooking, or prior to serving.
  • There are a variety of recipes in which the flowers may be deep fried as fritters or tempura (after dipping in a light tempura batter), stuffed, sautéed, baked, or used in soups.
  • Zucca is the Italian word for pumpkin/squash and zucchino/zucchina (zucca + ina = little) are diminutive forms, becoming zucchini/zucchine in the plural.
  • Zucchini can also be baked into a bread similar to banana bread or incorporated into a cake mix.
  • Zucchini has a delicate flavor and requires little more than quick cooking with butter or olive oil, with or without fresh herbs.
  • In France, zucchini is a key ingredient in ratatouille, a stew of summer fruits and vegetables prepared in olive oil and cooked for an extended time over low heat.
  • Zucchini may be stuffed with meat with other fruits such as tomatoes or bell peppers in a dish called courgette farcie (stuffed zucchini).
  • The flowers are also used in a cold dish, where they are stuffed with a rice mix with various spices and nuts and stewed.
  • In the Levant, zucchini is stuffed with minced meat and rice plus herbs and spices and steamed.
  • Stews that have low salinity are favorable in such cooking.
  • While easy to grow, zucchini, like all squash, requires plentiful bees for pollination.
  • Closely related to zucchini are Lebanese summer squash or kusa (not to be confused with cushaw), but they often are lighter green or even white.