Overgrown zucchini tend to have an overabundance of seeds, a stringy texture and a bitter taste. This is not to say that these zucchini are useless; overgrown zucchini can still be used in a number of recipes and, if all else fails, in various eco-friendly crafts. When you come across that zucchini that's been hidden and grown too large, or are gifted a zucchini that's grown to incredible dimensions, don't be too quick to toss it in the garbage. Even zucchini too bitter for consumption have their uses.
Bread, Muffins and Cake
Wash the zucchini to remove dirt and debris. Use a potato peeler to peel away the outer shell until there is no more visible dark green coloring. Slice the zucchini in half. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Shred the pale green zucchini meat by hand, using a cheese grater, or in a blender. Use the shredded zucchini in your favorite bread, muffin or cake recipe. Shredded zucchini can also be placed in zippered plastic bags and stored in the freezer for up to six months for future use.
Wash and peel the zucchini as you would if preparing shredded zucchini for bread, muffins or cakes. Dice the zucchini into small pieces, preferably no larger than half-inch-by-half-inch pieces. Place the diced zucchini in a pot of water so that the water covers the zucchini pieces, and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat so that the water simmers. Simmer the zucchini for two to three hours. Add additional water if necessary. The water should always cover the zucchini. Pour the mixture through a pasta strainer to remove large chunks. The liquid (zucchini base) can be used immediately in soups or placed in an airtight container in the freezer for up to six months.
Wash the zucchini and slice it in half, with the skin on. Use a spoon to remove the seeds. Rinse the spoon and use it to remove an additional one-quarter to one-half inch of the zucchini meat. Dice the zucchini meat. Warm olive or vegetable oil in a pan. Add diced onions, garlic or other herbs to the oil and simmer for five minutes. Add ground beef or sausage and simmer until the meat is brown. Strain the meat mixture through a pasta strainer to remove excess grease. Add grated cheese, diced tomatoes or bread crumbs to the mixture and stir well. Fill the two halves of zucchini with the mixture, place the two halves together (so that they resemble the original zucchini), wrap the zucchini in foil, and bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour.
Cut the top off of the zucchini. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and soft flesh from the zucchini, leaving only the shell and firm flesh within. Carve the zucchini as you would carve a pumpkin jack-o-lantern, taking into consideration if you will ultimately have your zucchini sitting on one end or on its side. Insert a candle, light the candle with a long match or fire starter, replace the top of the zucchini and enjoy your unique jack-o-lantern.
Roasted Zucchini Seeds
Cut the zucchini in half. Use a spoon to remove the seeds. Soak the seeds and seed membrane in water, stirring occasionally. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the dish while the membrane will float to the top. Scoop away the membrane and discard it. Drain the seeds. Place the seeds in a bowl and add water to cover them. Stir salt into the water until it no longer dissolves. Allow the seeds to soak overnight in the salt water. Drain the seeds. Place the seeds on a baking sheet and bake them in an oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally, for two to three hours or until golden brown.
Chuck your overgrown zucchini into the compost heap. You can dice, slice, or run the zucchini through a blender beforehand for quicker composting rewards. Compost can be used for additional soil nutrients when gardening, or can be dried and used as fuel for burning. An inedible zucchini is not a useless zucchini. If you do not have a compost bin or heap yourself, ask your neighbors, friends or family members if they do.
Cristel Wood is a writer specializing in food, photography, gardening and video games. She holds an Associate of Arts from South Puget Sound Community College and has worked for her local Parks & Recreation department, Mt. Baker ski area, Vista Village Retirement Community and has taught ESL in Peru.
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