How To Tell When Zucchini Is Ripe?

mlpgarden(7)June 4, 2014

Well I grabbed my first zucchini off the bush recently. As you can see, the thing is pretty big! My mom suggested 'It's getting too ripe, pick it now.' but I was reluctant because even though it was so big, it didn't weigh much. Well I picked it anyways, since momma knows everything (lol), and when I cut into it, it was obvious it wasn't ripe enough. The seeds were almost non-existent and the flavor was very bland :( How do I know when the right time to pick zucchini and squash is?

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Zucchini don't actually get "ripe". They just keep getting bigger and bigger and as they do the central core gets seedier and seedier.

They can be picked and eaten at any stage from 4-5" long on. Many gardeners feel the 6-8*' size is ideal as they have more meat, less seed and the meat has a more tender, tastier (less watery), texture.

Using your hand for scale in the pic, your's is well past what many would consider the ideal size but it is still edible.

But some prefer the so-called baseball bat size. It all depends on how you plan to use it. Try yours at several different sizes and see which you prefer.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 2:10PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Agree with Dave.

We like to slice those bigger ones in 1/2" slices and grill them. Just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Zucchini really don't have a lot of flavor raw. That's why they adapt well to so many recipes. Sweet or savory.

I often pick mine at just 4" or so, slice lengthwise and dip in ranch dressing. By picking them very small, my husband and I can almost keep with two plants!


    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 10:09AM
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AiliDeSpain(6a - Utah)

Pick it smaller than what you have pictured. It will be more tender and flavorful!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 1:31AM
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Some zuke plants have very minor seeds. Lots are nearly flavorless. Park's Contender is like that. it will grow until it gets spongy and dry inside, but it'll still be flavorless with tiny immature seeds.

At least the ones I used to grow...

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 1:47AM
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I have Costata Romanesco. My favorite zuke because it gets large and doesn't get seedy quickly.
I also grew some tatume this year and I don't like it. It starts getting seeds and tough skin quickly. I'm wondering if mine could be mixed with a winter squash? One got to the size of a kabocha squash recently. I'm just going to let it go and see what happens. They also have a huge seed cavity.mnice for stuffing,though.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 4:18PM
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Ah, okay I get it. So it *is* ripe, it just doesn't have much flavor or big seeds. I was wondering because the seeds inside it were so tiny, nowhere near the size of the ones I actually planted in order to get the plant (Grow Organic brand, by the way). There's another on the plant now about half the size, I'll take that off in the morning and give it a try. I know I love grilled zucchini with a little tarragon and sea salt.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 12:52AM
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Most people eat zucchini and summer squash when they're young and have tender skins so they aren't ripe. When they get ripe they get huge, the skins get tough (like winter squash and pumpkins), and the seeds are bigger which is when you harvest the seeds to plant the following year. That's why the seeds in your juvenile squash are smaller than the seeds you planted.

Cukes are the same way - pick them when they're small, don't wait for them to ripen and turn yellow.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 2:52PM
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My MIL, bless her heart and RIP, used to grow all her zukes and summer squash until they looked like ballbats. I couldn't eat them. You don't want seeds in them to be like sunflower seeds. The thing is, zucchini and cukes are prolifically bearing plants. They come on so heavily that you can't give them away, so there is no reason to NOT pick them when the peel is tender and the seeds tiny. There will be plenty more coming on. The flesh on the young ones is more juicy, firmer, and cooks up better. It's really off-putting to make a nice ratatouille and see big, hard seeds floating around in the broth.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 10:05PM
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I can't seem to catch mine at the right time. They either still have blossoms on the end or they are huge. Should I pick them when the blossom is still on the end to get a smaller one?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 5:16PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Until around the 1960s zucchini, called courgettes here, were almost unknown except from rare and exotic trips across the Channel. We grew 'marrows' ie huge zucchini. These were always peeled and had the seeds and pith removed. So they are perfectly edible if stuffed, stewed, braised, etc. You can even make 'rum' and preserves out of them. Marrow and ginger jam is very tasty. If you Google marrow recipes you'll find loads. Just watch out for the odd bone marrow recipe which gets trawled up.

Here is a link that might be useful: Marrow recipes

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 10:23AM
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With Zukes, they will change size ALMOST in front of your eyes. If the blossom is just past the blossom stage, then you can pick it, or wait a day or so (depending on moisture and heat). I've seen some Black Beauty zukes go from still blossom on to almost baseball bats in less than 3-4 days with the right conditions.

I used to sell LOTS of the HUGE ones for people to make bread from. They told me that the bigger ones were drier and easier to work with. Only peel once and seed once, with LOTS to work with. They would shred and freeze for recipes later.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:00PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I did not read all the comments;

Certain vegetable are picked and consumed young and tender, like cucumbers, zukes, sweet peas, snow peas, some sweet peppers, eggplants. You want ripe zuke if you want to save seeds. Same goes for cukes.
But on the other hand, you let them grow to a standard size (for a given variety) to get a bigger bang for the buck.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:10AM
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