The zucchini, or courgette is a small summer squash. Along with some other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. Zucchini is the more common name in North America, Australia and Italy, while courgette is more commonly used in Britain, Ireland, France, New Zealand and South Africa. Zucchini can be yellow, green or light green, and generally have a similar shape to a ridged cucumber, though a few cultivars are available that produce round or bottle-shaped fruit.
In a culinary context, zucchini is treated as a vegetable, which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. Botanically, however, the zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower.
Less than thirty years ago, the zucchini, formerly often referred to as green Italian squash, was hardly recognized in the United States even though this appears to be the home base. Today, it is not only widely-recognized, but a particular favorite of home gardeners. Not withstanding its prolific growing nature, its popularity is probably due to in large part to its versatility as a vegetable as well as in breads and desserts.
Zucchini, Cucurbita pepo, is a member of the cucumber and melon family. Inhabitants of Central and South America have been eating zucchini for several thousand years, but the zucchini we know today is a variety of summer squash developed in Italy.
The word zucchini comes from the Italian zucchino, meaning a small squash. The term squash comes from the Indian skutasquash meaning "green thing eaten green." Christopher Columbus originally brought seeds to the Mediterranean region and Africa.
The French snubbed zucchini for a long time until chefs learned to choose small fruits which are less bland and watery. The French term for zucchini is courgette, which is often used interchangeably for yellow squash as well.
Did you know
Zucchini is only tasty eaten young.
The flower of the zucchini plant is also edible. (If you dare.)
The world’s largest zucchini on record was 69 1/2 inches long, and weighed 65 lbs. Bernard Lavery of Plymouth Devon, UK, grew the humongous veggie.
Serving size: 100 grams
Zucchini should be stored not longer than three days. They are prone to chilling damage which shows as sunken pits in the surface of the fruit, especially when brought up to room temperature after cool storage.