Online Magazine

& Cooking Club

In This Issue

Feature Articles

Making heads & tails of

the squash kingdom

6 Tricks to Take the Bland

out of Summer Squash

Zucchini Overload:

how to turn over-abundance

into advantage

5 Fast Ways to Cook Squash +

5 Simple Ways to Dress It Up

In Every Issue

Why We Love It

Top 10 Questions about Squash

The Green Kitchen

Picky Eater Tips

Money Saving Tricks

News from the Farm


Cooking School

Cooking Classes:

    Greek Potato Salad

    Zucchini Salad Americana

Buying the Best

Storing for Flavor

Prepping Tricks & Tips

Cooking Basics

Recipes, Recipes, Recipes

14 Easy, Creative Dishes Using Summer Squash

Making Heads & Tails of the Squash Kingdom 6 Tricks toTake the Bland out of Summer Squash Zucchini Overload: how to turn over-abundance into advantage Zucchini Saute with 5 Variations Recipe List for Zucchini Buying The Best Storing For Flavor Prepping Tricks & Tips Cooking Basics Why We Love It The Green Kitchen Picky Eater Tips Money Saving Tricks News From The Farm #CookingClassPotatoSalad #Top10Questions In This Issue

© 2009 Culinary Concepts, Inc., Boulder CO

At the Store Buying the Best

What To Look For:  Signs of Freshness

Buying zucchini is like buying any vegetable:  You’re looking for signs of freshness vs. signs of age and deterioration.  The indicators are the same as other vegetables: color, turgidity and overall condition, plus two more:  skin and stem end conditions.

What’s Fresh

What’s Not Fresh


Vibrant, almost artificially shiny

Dull and lackluster


Firm and plump feeling

Limp and rubbery

or parts that are shriveled



Nicks, scrapes, dings, black marks


Thin, pliable and soft

Hard skins that are becoming shell-like

Stem end

Open and porous-looking

Withered and dry  

What Kind to Buy:  A Low-Risk Adventure

Confusion is warranted when it comes to squash.  All sorts of things are called “squash” at the store.  Check out “Making Heads & Tails of the Squash Kingdom” to make sense of this vast vegetable kingdom.  In a nutshell:

1.  Summer vs. Winter Squash  Know how to tell the difference between summer and winter squash and you’ve got most of what you need to buy with confidence.

2.  Similar-Taste Allows for Adventure  Within the summer squash camp, most varieties taste similar enough that they can be used interchangeably, so it’s ok to be adventurous and try some of the more outlandish looking squashes.  And if you happen to get a patty pan, know that it’s firmer flesh has even more uses than other summer squash.

Ends that look freshly cut; there might even see small beads of moisture.

Skin so tender that it’s easily nicked by just a fingernail

Ends that are brown, withered or moldy

Skin that’s hard like a shell–a sign it wasn’t picked soon enough

Battered and bruised skin–a sign not only of aging but poor handling

Because of  zucchini’s dark skin, it can be hard to see pock marks, so examine closely before buying

Squash so rubbery it bends

A complexion like a baby’s!

On the left: Aging squash become dull and lackluster.

On the right:  The vibrant color of just-picked squash.  


Sticky Squash?

Sometimes, squash will be covered with a sticky film.  Is it OK to buy squash like that?  

Find out from Farmer Stevens in News from the Farm

A firm, full feel–like it’s ripe with water, which it should be!

On The Blog

What about Organic?

While buying organic is generally recommended for a wide variety of reasons, organic is not always affordable.  How important is it to prioritize your organic shopping dollars on summer squash?  

Ranking:  #17  (out of 47 fruits and vegetables, squah is the 17th worst in terms of its pesticide load)  


Absolute Load:  53/100  (In comparison to other vegetables, squash’s pesticide load is right in the middle, at 53 on a scale of 0 (the best) to 100 (the worst) )

The Bottom Line: While not absolutely critical, buying organic summer squash is important.   

Where to Buy:  The Store Matters

Surprisingly, all the not-fresh squash in the pictures above came directly from a local store.  These poor fellows were right on the top for quick sale.  While that’s a sensible strategy for the store, an unsuspecting shopper short on time could have easily gotten saddled with a bunch of less-than-flavorful squash.  Saving strategies:

1.  Watch What You Grab  Don’t assume that everything in the vegetable bin is of equally good quality.  Just a few seconds is enough to make sure you’re not getting the discards laying on top.

2.  The Best Are on the Bottom  If a store is dumping older produce on the top of the stack, dig deeper for fresher-looking specimens.   

3 .  Some Stores Are Better Than Others  If a store frequently offers less-than-fresh produce, save time by finding a store that does the sorting for you.  There are many that regularly cull out sub-optimal produce so you can safely grab just about anything in the pile.    

How important is it to buy the organic version of summer squash?

Local Farmer’s Markets:  Best Bet for Fresh  

If you’ve ever accused zucchini of being bland, you owe the poor vegetable a trip to the Farmer’s Market.  Buy a squash picked that day, then cook it that night for dinner (find out “How to Saute Summer Squash.”)  Just see if zucchini doesn’t taste sweet when picked fresh and sauteed to a golden brown.  

What’s Fresh and  What’s Not Fresh

Read more about the beauty and benefits of different vegetable varieties:

Want Your Vegetable World in Color or B & W?  

The Organic Meter

Very Important



Lower Priority

Lowest Priority

Source “The Shopper's Guide to Pesticides” from the Environmental Working Group*

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