Zucchini Overload

In last week’s column, I mentioned the lone zucchini plant in our garden. What a workhorse that plant is! If that plant was a person, it would be an Olympic gold medalist or on an all-star team. Or, the plant would be the queen of the vegetable garden who wears a beautiful robe of flowers.

Prolific as they are, zucchinis are also slightly problematic. I call good problems “champagne problems” and the overabundance of zucchini definitely fits into that category. I love to peer into the plant every few days and feel surprise about what I see. Zucchinis that only a few days ago were just a few inches long suddenly become the size of a foot long subway sandwich. How’d that happen? Now we have too many and they are way too big.

Sometimes a zucchini plant will produce so much that it can even be difficult to give it away. My mind runs down a list of nearby friends who may or may not want some. Or, maybe neighbors. I could put them in a basket and go door-to-door. This would definitely be a good way to win friends and influence people, wouldn’t it? When tossing this idea around with a friend, he sheepishly admitted that someone offered him overgrown zucchini and he put them in the compost pile. Oh dear. Don’t tell anyone!

Just as I was immersed in the door-to-door fantasy and almost ready to go knockin’, reader David Hudson texted me and said that the Italians pick zucchinis very small and then they have more flavor. Why hadn’t I thought of that? Generally speaking, the smaller the fruit or vegetable, the more intense the flavor is. If I pick them small, I may regret that we did not plant more. Imagine that.

Or, I could get organized and freeze them. I typed the question “How to freeze zucchini” into the Artificial Intelligence chat bot “Open AI” and it gave me a detailed set of instructions. Sounds easy! Wash, slice or cube, blanch, cool in an ice bath, drain and dry, portion and pack, remove the air, label and date, then freeze. All you need is a knife, cutting board, large pot, strainer, big bowl, freezer bags, and a permanent marker. You can check the instructions out at “chat.openai.com” and ask “Uncle It” (my nickname for AI) “How to freeze zucchini”. The Italians go one step further; they pick the blossoms, stuff them with ricotta and mozzarella cheese and fry them. Sounds delicious! That could definitely nip in the bud the overabundant zucchini problem. Why didn’t I think of stuffing zucchini blossoms sooner? Now I can pretend I am a five-star chef in a fancy Italian restaurant. Oh, life – and a zucchini – is good.