What's the maximum size you allow your zukes to get before picking them? At what size do they get unpleasant in edibility?
Funny to ask. I sell at 3 markets, in three different towns. In one town, everyone sells these monster baseball bat zuchinni. I came in and offered small ones and they sold very well. I had several people comment that they love the small ones, but no one grows them. Then I had some people come and tell me that my Zuchinni is too small and has "No Flavor". SO I keep picking on the small side and I usually take one basket of bigger stuff to that market.
I have found a quick way to measure squash and try to get an even sized crop. I look at the recommended length on the seed packet and then take a heavy gauge wire and bend it in a u shape. If you watch Deadliest Catch on Discovery, this is how they sort crab. I thought it was a great way for squash! I also have round ones for the 8-Ball, One Ball and Cue Ball round squash.
At our county fair, we have a "Largest Summer Squash" contest. This will be the third year I will enter. The first year, I won first. I am not sure if it is an award you want to win! It was close to 10 pounds. Last year, I was second by less than a half pound. This year, I am going to try to win again. The first prize is $5. Yea, $5 isn't much, but you have to look forward to something!
you should harvest them as babies, some people think "the blossom still on" is the gourmet zuc, depending on the variety up to 10 in is no prob, the ones that get big can be used in relish, breads, and cookies, it seems to me the more young ones you pick the more you will get, if left to grow big, production falls. just keep trying them in different recipes (maybe some one will post a recipe) and see what you like.
The FarmGuy is right. The smaller, the better. I generally try to pick them when they are less than 2" in diameter. Once they are big enough to form seed, they are chicken food. If you can't keep up with eating them, they freeze well.
My favorite way to eat them is grilled. I cut them in chunks and use a dry rub of italian dressing mix or garlic and salt, or whatever spices come to mind. Then I slide the chunks onto kabob sticks so that the round discs will lay flat on the grill. (I like them crisp) But you can also save space on the stick by putting them on at a sort of angle.
Cook until just tender. Also great with beef or chicken kabobs.
On a rainy day, deep fry those chunks! mmmmmm.
I am sooo hungry! Kay.
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Thanks farmguy and Kay! Two inches it is!
The link below is for my favorite recipe site. Zucchini recipes abound!
Here is a link that might be useful: All Recipes
Depends on what you are doing with them. Those huge ones all shredded up can sit in the freezer waiting to be added to a bread mix or cake mix. The seeds get unruly on the large ones but we let a few grow to be monsters on purpose.
I wouldn't let mine get huge but I don't pick them usually at 2 inches either...unless I'm trying to get enough for a meal...I think most people let them get 4 or 5 or even 6 inches....they certainly are good at that point...Last year my patty pans grew so fast they would be small one day and huge the next...not one of them ever went to waste..
Before I learned they were supposed to be harvested small I let them grow large. Not baseball bat large, but 12+".
At this point they are fairly tough, but the way my wife prepared them they turned out quite tasty.
They were simply sliced in half length wise, seeds removed and then stuffed with sauce, ground beef and seasonings, wrapped in foil and baked until tender.
Play around and see what you like.
gee a prize for the biggest summer squash, well if you can make a canoe out of it...........the variety that i would try would be Romanesco zucchini the ones that hid and grew big were truly huge! a delicious product also.
My favourite way to cook zucchini is to cut them into half inch thick rounds and simply bake with a couple tablespoons of butter and olive oil, some kosher salt, pepper and a light dusting of garlic powder. Bake until just at the crossroads of tender and soft. I usually serve these with baked baseball sized meatballs with a light marinara sauce. I try to keep low on my carb intake, so the baked zukes are a great replacement for this. They have a nice subtle balance of savory and sweetness to them.
Harvest them whenever you like! I grow tons of zucchini each year and harvest whenever the mood strikes. I use small ones for adding to salads, snacking on raw, and adding to stir fry- I ALWAYS let several get big- scoop out and stuff with rice meat tomato and cheese- yum! IF I get too many big ones, I shred and freeze to make jams and casseroles (same as the stuffed, but without the shell) later. Although we sometimes eat a bit much stuffed, after the season, casserole is a big hit!
vrie, could you share your casserole recipe, please? I love casseroles!
Technically, there really isn't an "overripe" or too-large summer squash. In Britain, the squash are allowed to mature and harden on the vine and used as a winter squash -- it's called "vegetable marrow." I tried it last fall with an abandoned and ripened zucchini, just to see -- I just cut off a piece, scooped out the seeds, and baked it in the oven with a pat of butter and a little black pepper and dash of salt substitute. It was bland, but not bad. Could probably be mashed up and used as a "base" for other things, like the way mashed potatoes are used sometimes in recipes, either as a "crust" on shephard's pie, or to make fritters or croquettes, that sort of thing.
I harvest at all sizes. Basically I gather whatever is out there a couple times a week all Summer, but the Italian Marrow squash I let get large enough so that one of them split in half fills my largest baking dish. Then I prepare it stuffed, like justaguy2 has also described. If you bake it long enough it is tender, and you have to have the large ones for stuffing.