It has been a great year for summer squash here. We have eaten it on a regular basis, and frozen quite a bit for later use. Much zucchini has gone into Chocolate Zucchini Smoothies, which have been a real guilt-free summer treat for me. And quite a bit has gone into my new favorite snack, Spelt Chocolate Zucchini Bread. We have also given a lot of it away to friends and neighbors, and donated some of it to our local food pantry and to the kitchen where I volunteer. The current tally sits at 108 pounds for the year, which has come from seven plants (counting the dual use Tatume). And the plants are still producing, though they have slowed a bit.
I am growing both yellow squash and zucchini this year. In the past I have also grown white, yellow and green pattypan squashes. The 2013 yellow varieties include Superpik, Gentry and Enterprise, and all of them perform consistently well for me here. The zucchini varieties are Partenon, Spineless Beauty, and Striata d’Italia, and all of those are proven performers here too. Striata d’Italia went in a batch of Zucchini and Tomato Bake I made the other day.
I have found over the years that not everyone is a fan of all kinds of summer squashes. When it comes time to give them away, some people are very specific about what they like. Many will eat only zucchini, for instance. Others prefer the yellow varieties. In my area, I do believe geography has a lot to do with it. For 25 years I lived across the river in Kentucky, and the preference down there was decidedly towards yellow squash. Ask a gardener which squash they planted, and the answer would most likely be either “straightneck” or “crookneck” (the two basic types of yellow squashes). Zucchini was grown, but it wasn’t the same as “squash”.
When I lived in Ky I had two neighbors that were originally from Alabama, and they both preferred yellow squash. They thought zucchini was something you made into bread, but that was about it. As a fairly young cook I was eager to learn about how to cook squash, so I quizzed both of them as to how they fixed yellow squash. Eva and Lisa gave me similar recipes, both involving bacon grease, sugar, salt and pepper. One added a bit of flour, the other didn’t. And both cooked it until nice and soft (some would say overcooked). I tried it both ways, and settled on the version without flour. I still make it that way today, and it is definitely a comfort food for me. I do sometimes dress it up a bit with onions, garlic, or chives, like the batch in the skillet in the below photo from last year (which was made from frozen squash), though these days I am more likely to use olive oil instead of bacon grease.
But after I retired and moved back across the river to Southern Indiana, I found yellow squash wasn’t quite so popular. Here zucchini seems to reign supreme. Check out this article from the University of Illinois Extension called Summer Squash and you will find 12 varieties of zucchini mentioned, but only 4 of yellow squash. But if you look at this article from NC State University titled Summer Squash Production, you will see that fully 18 different varieties of yellow squash are mentioned (including the three that I grow), but only 3 varieties of zucchini! So it does seem to be a regional thing. I’d love to cite an Indiana article on squash varieties for the home garden, but alas our state extension educators apparently can’t be bothered to publish anything that useful.
Of course there’s also the pattypan types, which I think have a different flavor than many other squashes. My mother loved the white pattypans (aka White Scalloped), and also a yellow variety called Sunburst (a 1985 All-America Selections winner). I grew pattypans especially for her, since my parents didn’t have a garden. Her favorite cooking method was very simple: cut up the squash, add a bit of water and a dab of butter, and cook until just tender. She also made a lot of squash casseroles, using any and all squashes. I haven’t grown pattypans in several years, though they do well here and are quite productive. Just thinking about the White Scalloped has made me hungry for their unique flavor! Maybe next year.
Squash isn’t the only game in town here right now. The tomatoes have started ripening, and I found enough of them to make a batch of Homemade Tomato Ketchup. I used a few ripe Jimmy Nardello peppers in there, along with some Red of Tropea onions. My wife has agreed to make a second batch of this once we have enough tomatoes for it. I’m guessing that won’t be long. The Jacob’s Cattle beans are also starting to mature. I will let them finish drying inside, given our usual humid weather conditions outside.
And I was pleased a few days ago to find the first ripe melon, a green fleshed Galia type called Diplomat. I love these kind of melons, and this is the first time I’ve grown them here at HA, though I grew them at my old place. They were originally bred in Israel (from a honeydew/cantaloupe cross), and the Galia variety was named after the breeder’s daughter. The Galia melons are known for their sweet green flesh and heady aroma. The whole kitchen was smelling heavenly after I brought this melon in! I’ve also got my favorite muskmelon Ambrosia growing, plus a Canary melon called Brilliant, both of which take a bit longer to ripen.
The Italian eggplants are also coming on now, and I got enough of them this week to make a batch of Grilled Eggplant Parmesan. This meatless casserole freezes well, and I think it is a good way to preserve eggplant, at least if you like the casserole like I do. My wife thought the grilled slices needed to be photographed, and so I did!
There’s no doubt that summer squash is a prolific garden performer. My wife often says we could feed the world if we planted more squash, and it’s hard for me to argue with that. I’m always on the lookout for ways to use squash in the kitchen, regardless of type or color. Whether your favorite summer squash is yellow or green, straightneck or crookneck, you can find out what other gardeners are growing by visiting Daphne’s Dandelions, where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series.