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A Cook's Guide to Summer Squashes

Updated on August 30, 2013

Squash is a versatile, tasty vegetable that’s available almost year round. In the spring and summer, summer squash is in the markets, and in the colder months, winter squash is available. In fact, some varieties of winter squash can be found the entire year.

Summer squash is harvested when the rinds are still soft. These types of squashes can’t be stored for long periods without refrigeration or freezing the way winter squashes can. Summer squash varieties include yellow crookneck, yellow straightneck, pattypan, and zucchini. These vegetables are good sources of lutein, beta carotene, magnesium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, at less than 40 calories per serving.

 

Summer Squash Varieties

yellow crookneck squash
yellow crookneck squash

Yellow crookneck – This is the “old fashioned” type of squash with which most people are familiar. Choose small fruits, six inches long and smaller, that have not begun to darken to a golden shade. Remove the stem end and the flower end before cooking. Crookneck squash can be steamed, boiled, stir-fried, deep fried, grilled, sautéed, pureed into soups, or baked into casseroles. They’re also good raw in salads or with dips.

Some people will tell you that crookneck and straightneck are the same variety, but they're not. I've grown, eaten, and preserved MANY of both varieties, and they do have a couple of differences.

yellow straightneck squash
yellow straightneck squash

Yellow straightneck – These squash are similar in taste to the crookneck variety, but from my experience, their flavor is a little milder, and they don’t get hard as quickly as the crooknecks, so slightly larger fruits might still be good to eat. Very young fruits can be boiled or steamed whole. Yellow straignecks can also be cooked all the same ways in which crookneck squash is prepared.

pattypan squash
pattypan squash

Pattypan – These are attractive round squash with scalloped edges, in either pale green or gold. They're similar in taste to straightneck and crookneck yellow squash, with a slightly nuttier flavor. Choose fruits that are four or less inches across. One of the best ways to cook these squash is to stuff them whole. They make their own little serving dish! The link to this recipe can be found below.

 

zucchini
zucchini

Zucchini – Zucchini is similar in taste and texture to other summer squashes, but it has a dinstinctive slightly peppery taste. These squash grow to enormous sizes, but don’t use the big ones for cooking – they’ll be tough and stringy. Choose fruits that are eight inches or less in length. Zucchini is good baked, deep fried, grilled, stir-fried, sautéed, and cooked in casseroles.

squash blossom
squash blossom

Squash blossoms – Yes, squash blossoms are edible, and in fact, they’re delicious! Just remove a fully opened bloom from the ends of the fruits and batter-fry them or add them to salads or stir-fries.

 

How to Select Summer Squash

With winter squash, you want fruits with thick skin and deep color. The opposite is true with summer squash. Individuals with golden color are often overripe. Choose yellow squash with a pale lemon shade and thin, glossy skin. Examine the fruits for bruises, blemishes, and insect infestation. Also, don’t go for those “state fair” size squash and zucchini! Think small, and follow the sizing guidelines above.

 

How to Store Summer Squash

Summer squash will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 or 7 days. Don’t wash the squash or handle them any more than you have to. Place whole squash in a perforated plastic bags and store in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

To store for longer periods, you’ll need to freeze the squash. To do this, wash the squash first. Remove both ends and any blemishes. Slice the squash into ½-inch-thick slices. Drop into boiling water and cover with a lid. Blanch for four minutes. Remove pot from stove and pour contents into a colander. Run cold water over the squash until they’ve cooled completely. Place in plastic bags, remove excess air, and freeze. Properly frozen squash will keep for up to 12 months.

For some great summer squash recipes, click the links below!

 

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    • saif113sb profile image

      saif113sb 

      6 years ago

      Great hub.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Try the blossoms, Granny!

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      7 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      habee, we call it yellow squash or summer squash. I like it many ways. I freeze it and use it all year long. Great hub as always!

      I did not know you could eat the blossoms though. Thanks a lot

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Nancy, I actually prefer the yellow straightnecks.

    • nancy_30 profile image

      nancy_30 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      This is really great information on squash. We always plant the yellow crookneck. I'm looking forward to having some fresh squash.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      RA, fried is the only way my hubby will eat it!

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 

      8 years ago

      I remember eating yellow squash growing up, not bad tasting especially with some flavor seasonings, I guess the best way to eat them for me is fried or steamed with some rice.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      MMM, Jen - that sounds yummy!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      HH, I can't believe you don't like squash!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      That's a good friend, Sam!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Many thanks, Nifty!

    • JenDobson27 profile image

      JenDobson27 

      8 years ago

      I just love fried zucchini dipped in some marinara sauce or ranch dressing. Not healthy at all, but it makes a great snack when you feel like cheating a little!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Great informative hub but you won't tempt me there.

    • samboiam profile image

      samboiam 

      8 years ago from Texas

      A friend of my just gave me some squash. I plan on having it for supper some night this week, probably with fried potatoes and scrambled eggs.

    • nifty@50 profile image

      nifty@50 

      8 years ago

      Very informative and great pictures keep up the great work!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Aren't they cute, Eth?

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Ricky, I want some!! How ya been?

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Those patty pan are funny looking Holle. They look like a cross between mushrooms and little patties

    • profile image

      Ricky G 

      8 years ago

      Thanks, ours just started coming in a couple of days ago. I've also planted a yellow Zucchini, they are good too.

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