Ingredient Intelligence

How to Tell If Zucchini Is Bad — Plus How to Pick a Good One

published Jul 21, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

One of summer’s most abundant crops, zucchini is just about everywhere from June through the end of August — piled up on market tables, on sale at the grocery store, and maybe even popping up in your own garden. But before you can make any zucchini recipe, you need to be sure you have a good zuke on your hands.

But how can you tell if zucchini has gone bad? It won’t be staying up late and yelling, “I don’t have to listen to you!” as it slams the door in your face like an unruly teenager. Instead, you’ll need to use your senses to determine if your thin-skinned courgettes are good to eat or ready for the compost bin. Here’s what to look for.

How to Tell If Zucchini Has Gone Bad

Bad zucchini will feel rubbery or slimy to the touch. It may also have an off-putting smell and dark or fuzzy moldy spots. The interior of bad zucchini may be off-white to brownish with stringy, mushy flesh and large, hard seeds. 

How to Tell If Zucchini Is Good to Eat

Fresh zucchini has bright, taut green skin that’s free of moldy spots, wrinkling, or discoloration. Zucchini should feel smooth to the touch. When choosing zucchini, look for the stem ends to be intact. Some extremely fresh zucchini may even have the blossoms still attached. 

Look for zucchini around six inches or smaller for optimum flavor. Avoid zucchini with nicks or cuts that can speed up the aging process. Inside, fresh zucchini will have a whitish flesh that may be slightly yellow or green with small, tender seeds.

How Long Can Zucchini Be Stored Before It Goes Bad?

Fresh zucchini can be stored on the counter at room temperature for two to three days or in the fridge for up to a week. If you aren’t going to get around to eating the zucchini in a week, you may also slice, blanch, and freeze zucchini for up to three months. 

Zucchini Recipes to Try

Ready to enjoy your zucchini harvest? Here are a few of our favorite recipes. (And learn how to cut zucchini properly before you start cooking.)