Get The Most Out of Your Summer Squash from Backyard Eats
Harvesting Summer Squash
- You can harvest squash flowers for an early summer treat.
- First, learn how to tell male and female flowers apart. Male flowers are hairier, have a thin base, and pollinate but don’t produce fruit. Female flowers have a thicker base and form fruit.
- For best results, harvest blossoms in the morning and use the same day.
- To harvest blossoms, find a male flower and cut the stem half an inch below the blossom.
- It’s important to leave most female flowers so the plant will continue to produce fruit (a.k.a. squash)
When It’s Ready
- Harvest zucchini and yellow squash before they reach 8” long.
- Patty pan squash should be the size of a doorknob and almost entirely yellow.
- “Summer squash will continue setting buds until the first frost, but only if you pick the fruit before it matures—that is, just as its blossom drops off the tip. If you allow even one fruit to mature, the plant’s overall productivity may decline.” [RUEOG]
When It’s Too Late
- If the squash shows signs of rot, or pest damage it is no longer desirable to eat.
- Twist individual squash from their vines, or cut them away gently
- Leave 1” of stem attached to the squash for improved storage
Growing Summer Squash
Summer squash is a delicious and versatile vegetable that comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with a wide range of ingredients. It can be sautéed for a quick and easy side dish, grilled to accentuate its flavor, added to a soup or stew, or even pickled! Summer squash can also be stuffed with cooked grains and vegetables.
Varieties of Summer Squash:
Patty Pan Summer Squash | Zucchini
Storing Summer Squash
Fresh Storage: Store squash for 1-2 weeks in the fridge at 41–50°F and 95% humidity.
Cooking With Summer Squash
- Grilled Summer Squash: Slice summer squash into thick rounds, brush them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill until tender and slightly charred. Grilled summer squash makes a delicious and simple side dish for summer meals.
- Summer Squash Pasta: Spiralize or thinly slice summer squash and use it as a pasta substitute. Sauté the squash in olive oil with garlic, cherry tomatoes, and herbs for a light and flavorful “pasta” dish.
- Summer Squash Fritters: Grate summer squash and mix it with breadcrumbs, eggs, grated cheese, and herbs. Shape the mixture into patties and pan-fry until golden and crispy. Serve the fritters as a tasty appetizer or vegetarian main course.
- Summer Squash Salad: Slice summer squash into thin ribbons or cubes and toss them with fresh herbs, lemon juice, olive oil, and crumbled feta cheese. This refreshing salad showcases the natural flavors of summer squash.
- Stuffed Summer Squash: Cut summer squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and stuff them with a mixture of cooked grains, chopped vegetables, cheese, and herbs. Bake until the squash is tender and the filling is heated through for a satisfying and healthy stuffed squash dish.