5 Important Things to Know About Zucchini

(Image credit: Izy Hossack)

It’s officially that time of year when we’re all swimming in zucchini. But before you start tossing it on the grill, spiralizing it, and baking it into quick bread, it’s important to get your facts straight about the summer vegetable. Here are five important things to know about buying, prepping, and using zucchini.

1. Understand how it’s different from yellow squash.

Zucchini, like yellow squash, is a type of summer squash. While they can usually be used interchangeably, it’s helpful to know exactly how the two are different, beyond just their color, so you can buy with confidence.

2. Know how to shop for the best zucchini.

There are three things to look for when buying zucchini: vibrant color, small size, and a thick stem still attached. Keep these things in mind and the haul you pick up won’t be a disappointment when you get home to start cooking.

3. Treat it the right way.

Because zucchini has such a high water content, if you don’t prepare it the right way, you’ll be left with a soggy, unpalatable mess. Have the foresight to salt, drain, and rinse the sliced, cubed, or grated zucchini and you’ll remove a lot of that water before you get started.

4. Learn how to move it to the center of the plate.

Sure, a side dish of grilled or sautéed zucchini is great, but when you’re stuck in the middle of peak zucchini season, it’s smart to know other ways to use it up. Because zucchini is such a blank slate for flavor, it makes a versatile base for a seasonal main course.

5. Know the best way to preserve it.

If you’re still hardly making a dent in your supply, turn to the freezer. Cubes of blanched zucchini freeze well and are a welcome addition to soups and stir-fries throughout the rest of the year.