Lock your cars and sun porches, it’s zucchini season here in Vermont!
It’s long been a joke that the only time anyone around here locks the car is during zucchini season. They grow really fast, especially if there’s been a lot of rain, and it always seems like these fruits go from tender little treasures to baseball-bat size in the blink of an eye. No matter how religiously you think you’ve harvested, you will often find them hiding under the abundant leaves!
I have a friend who used to impale a large zucchini on the post of her garden, as an example, to deter other zucchinis who might want to grow so large. It didn’t work
Although full of seeds and sporting a much thicker skin than immature fruit, large zucchini are still perfectly edible. The texture is not as uniform as when small, and the flavor is muted as well. However, they make lovely pureed soups and can still be used to make “zoodles” those spiral zucchini noodles that are so popular.
When life hands you a zucchini, make bread
But my favorite use of these abandoned oversized fruits is zucchini bread. Grated, the fresh flesh makes a moist and delicious quick bread that has no real flavor of vegetable. Often loaded with cinnamon and other warm spices as well as nuts and dried fruits, they make lovely gifts and holiday treats. You can also grate those monsters and freeze them for baking later in the year. When my sister gave up her kitchen garden, she would ask me to save a large zucchini for just that purpose.
If you don’t have a garden or have not been targeted for a drop-off, many farm stands sell them for pennies!
Pass it along
The two giants I received this week (thanks Amie!) were destined for bread. I handed off one of these abandoned fruits to my sister, and set to work grating the other for myself. Starting with my sister’s recipe, and keeping it simple, I added just cinnamon this time around, but you could add a bit of nutmeg or ginger as well. I used no nuts or dried fruits, but in the past have used a variety, and once in a while, chocolate chips!
A little whole grain, and a little less sugar
I swapped out most of the white flour with white whole wheat flour, and reduced the sugar from two cups to a total of one, adding some brown sugar to the mix. I did not peel the zucchini, so there were green specks in the finished product. If you wish to disguise the vegetable, peel it before grating.
Because zucchini has so much water, it is important to let it drain and squeeze out excess moisture before adding it to the batter, even then it will still add lots of moisture to the bread. This loaf was moist, delicious, and didn’t need a thing, well, except for a little smear of marmalade butter, below! I made one large loaf and eight muffins from the recipe. You could make two slightly smaller loaves if you wish.
Abandoned Zucchini Bread
- 1 large zucchini, shredded, four cups or so
- 260 g. white whole wheat flour, a bit more than two cups
- 120 g. unbleached white all-purpose flour, about a cup
- 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- Zest of one lemon
- Optional: 1 cup of chopped nuts, raisins, etc., or a mix of whatever
Cut your massive zucchini lengthwise into quarters. Scoop out the seeds. Grate, either with or without the peeling; if you use the peeling, there will be green flecks in the bread. Place 4 cups in a colander. Salt lightly, and let drain for about a half hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch loaf pan, and muffin tin, or two loaf pans.
Place drained zucchini in a kitchen towel and squeeze out all the moisture. A lot will come out. Set aside.
Sift together flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. If you are using nuts or dried fruits, add them now.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and zest, and add the zucchini. Gently combine with the dry ingredients, mixing only until there are no pockets of flour. If you plan to use nuts or dried fruits, add to the dry ingredients and coat them well.
Divide the batter into two 8″ loaves or one loaf and muffins. I made eight this time, but a few of them were really large, so it probably makes 10.
Set the timer for 30 minutes and turn the pans around for even browning. Bake for another 10 or 15 minutes and check to see if they are done. A toothpick inserted in the thickest middle will come out clean, visually the top will be nicely browned, and a gentle touch will reveal a firm loaf. It will also smell wonderful in your kitchen.
Let cool in the pan for five minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool. Serve warm, with a beautiful butter, such as the marmalade butter below!
Marmalade & Thyme Butter
- 1 stick of softened butter or vegan butter
- ½ cup good quality, bitter marmalade
- ½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced
Mix together with a wire whisk until smooth, and enjoy! You can freeze this for several months, and it makes a lovely gift.
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