It’s no secret that zucchini plants are prolific. Summer squash is one of my favorite plants to grow because sometimes it seems like all I have to do is blink, and there’s a harvest! For this same reason, it’s essential to keep a close eye on zucchini plants. Unfortunately, after going away recently, I came home to some massive squash in the garden, and that’s not exactly what we want when it comes to zucchini.
When To Harvest Zucchini
The Farmer’s Almanac Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook recommends harvesting zucchini when they’re tender and slightly immature, about 6 to 8 inches long.
After spending a very humid week away on vacation recently, I came home to a few giant zucchinis; they were fat and about 12 inches long. Yikes!
This size is impressive if you’re a giant veg grower, but not exactly what you want when you’re planning to eat and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Why Overgrown Zucchini Isn’t Ideal
One of my favorite things about vegetable gardening is how fresh and tasty everything is when picked from my garden and walked the few steps to my table.
Zucchini, in particular, tastes naturally buttery and delicious when picked fresh. The texture is just right, and the entire family loves it. I could go on forever, but I’ll stop here.
When you let the zucchini grow too large, you lose some flavor as the fruit becomes water-logged.
It’s also important to note that you could be interrupting future harvests when large squash sits on the vine. Cut them off immediately, so they don’t continue to steal moisture and nutrients from the little guys trying to make their way in the world.
What To Do With Giant Zucchini?
You’ll probably want to take a few pictures and show your family and friends what you’ve been able to produce.
But then, you need to get creative in terms of how you’ll use the overgrown squash.
I typically love to lightly season and grill fresh zucchini from the garden as an easy and delicious side with dinner. Not when it’s too big, though.
Don’t despair! Overgrown zucchini is perfect for shredding and using in baked goods. There are so many delicious and healthy recipes out there that call for zucchini:
- Chocolate zucchini cake
- Banana zucchini cookies
- Zucchini bread
- Banana chocolate chip zucchini muffins
Adding zucchini to baked goods provides an extra nutritional punch and makes the bread, muffin, or cake moister. Who doesn’t love that?
Here’s What I Did
I went ahead and shredded my zucchini and incorporated it into my favorite oatmeal breakfast cookies by Cookie and Kate. Kathryne Taylor is awesome. Her vegetarian recipes are always fresh, healthy, and super delicious.
I highly recommend her cookbook, Love Real Food: More Than 100 Feel-Good Vegetarian Favorites to Delight the Senses and Nourish the Body. That’s where I got the recipe for her Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies, but this time, I switched the carrot out for zucchini.
You Will Need:
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 ½ cups grated carrot, zucchini, or apple
- 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts or pecans
- ¼ cup raisins
- ⅓ cup coconut oil
- ⅓ cup applesauce
- ⅓ cup honey or maple syrup
How To Make It:
- Preheat over to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and ginger in a large bowl. Stir in the carrots or zucchini, nuts, and raisins.
- In a small bowl, combine the honey, coconut oil, and applesauce. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Drop ¼ cup scoops of dough onto the parchment paper and flatten slightly with a spatula. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.