Summer squash are relatives of both the melon and the cucumber and come in many different varieties. While each type varies in shape, color, size and flavor, they all share some common characteristics. The entire vegetable, including its flesh, seeds and skin, is edible. In addition, some varieties of the squash plant produce edible flowers. Unlike winter squash, summer squash are more fragile and cannot be stored for long periods of time. Varieties of summer squash include: Zucchini: Probably the best known of the summer squashes, zucchini is a type of narrow squash that resembles a cucumber in size and shape. It has smooth, thin skin that is either green or yellow in color and can be striped or speckled. Its tender flesh is creamy white in color and features numerous seeds. Its edible flowers are often used in French and Italian cooking. Crookneck and Straightneck Squash: Both of these summer squashes have creamy white flesh and generally have yellow skins, although sometimes you can find them with green skin. Crookneck squash is partially straight with a swan-like neck. It was genetically altered to produce its straightneck cousin that is shaped as its name implies. Pattypan Squash: This small saucer-shaped squash features skin that can either be pale green or golden yellow in color. Its cream-colored flesh is more dense and slightly sweeter than that of zucchini. Nutritionally, summer squash are good contributors of Vitamins A and C, folic acid, and magnesium.
Storing / Preserving:
Avoiding washing summer squash before storing. Put summer squash in plastic bags and keep in refrigerator vegetable crisper.
Store most varieties for up to a week.
Preparation / Use Suggestions:
Some simple ways to use summer squash: sprinkle grated zucchini or other summer squash on top of salads and sandwiches. Sauté summer squash, onions, bell peppers, eggplant and tomatoes and then simmer the mixture in tomato sauce. Season to taste. Serve raw summer squash with your favorite dips. Add summer squash to your favorite muffin or bread recipe; decrease the amount of liquid in the recipe by about one-third to compensate for the moisture present in the squash.