Is your garden overflowing with zucchini or another type of summer squash? Lucky you! Summer squash is a warm season vegetable that can be grown throughout the frost-free months. Varieties of summer squash can be found in grocery stores year round, but they are most plentiful during June, July, and August. Summer squash is harvested while the vegetable is still immature. As a result, the skin of the squash is tender and is edible, unlike its fall and winter counterparts.
What are the health benefits?
- Summer squash is low in calories with only 16 calories per cup of raw squash. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is high in fiber and low in calories which can help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Summer squash is free of sodium and cholesterol. A diet low in sodium and cholesterol decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Summer squash is high in vitamins A and C. Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, vision, cell growth, and fighting infections. Vitamin C helps to fight infections, build new body tissue, heal wounds, and eliminate cancer causing substances.
- Summer squash also contains potassium, manganese, folate, riboflavin, and vitamin B6. These help the body turn food into fuel as well as ensure proper contraction of the heart and skeletal muscles.
How do I select a summer squash at the grocery store?
- Choose summer squash that has a firm, glossy/shiny skin that is free of cuts, bruises, and blemishes.
- The summer squash should be heavy for its size. If comparing two of the same size, buy the heavier squash.
- Choose small to medium varieties. Smaller squash is more flavorful than larger ones.
How do I store summer squash?
- Store summer squash unwashed in plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Any water on the squash will promote decay while in storage.
- Summer squash can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator.
How should I prepare summer squash?
- Summer squash should be washed well right before it is used in a meal.
- Cut off both ends of the summer squash, but do not peel off the skin. Most of the vitamins and minerals are found near the skin. The skin of summer squash is very tender and easily eaten.
- Summer squash can be enjoyed either raw or cooked.
- Slice the squash and sauté, grill, steam, boil, roast, or microwave.
Top 5 ways to enjoy summer squash:
- Grate zucchini using a cheese grater and use it to make delicious zucchini bread or zucchini muffins.
- Chopped, raw summer squash can be added to a salad of lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and chickpeas to make a colorful, refreshing dish on a hot summer day.
- Use squash as part of a summer chili.
- Use summer squash to make a delicious veggie lasagna.
- Use summer squash to make vegetable kabobs on a summer night. Toss summer squash, red bell peppers, and onions in olive oil, add salt and pepper, place on a skewer, and grill to perfection.
Author: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.
Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.