Zucchini plants come in two flavors. Over-productive, and ‘OMG-what-do-I-do-with-them-all’ over-productive. I discovered this when I was still in college and rented a community garden plot. I planted five hills of zucchini seeds, following the instructions on the seed packet explicitly. My theory was that two of the hills might not make it, and I would only get about two zucchini per plant. This would leave me some to make zucchini bread, and some to give away to friends. This obviously was in my ‘garden-naive’ days. That year happened to be a fantastic year for zucchini. All five plants survived and soon began breeding faster than rabbits. By the end of summer, Trusty Hubby was looking around for open car windows so that he could leave bags of zucchini on the front seats. When we finally got the first hard frost, I think he danced a jig on the poor dead squash plants.
This summer, I naturally decided five hills might be overkill. Therefore, I only planted four hills. Again, this was on the theory that two plants would die. Only one died, mostly because I ignored the seed packet instructions and planted them a little too closely together. The three biggest ones exploded in growth so quickly that the fourth one died from lack of sun under the others’ leaves. I am now the proud mother of approximately 15 zucchini in two weeks, some of which have grown huge. By ‘huge’, I mean ‘they could be mistaken for Godzilla if they happened to fall on Tokyo.’ I told one of my friends who also grows zucchini that God had taken the 2-inch long ones I had the night before and replaced them the next morning with ones the size of mannequin arms. We agreed that if you cut them in half and add a nuclear motor and propeller, they could make outstanding substitutes for aircraft carriers. This might save the Navy considerable money.
One of the larger zucchini’s destiny was to be shredded and baked into yummy zucchini bread. Small zucchini are fantastic for sauteing. When you catch them in their pre-puberty stage, they haven’t developed seeds, and they’re still very tender and yummy. The large ones have grown tougher and have lots of seeds that need to be scooped out. They do shred very nicely, however. I thought I would share with you a little tutorial on how to make zucchini bread, complete with recipe. Note that this is not in the least low-fat. You’ve been warned. However, the fact that it’s made with a veggie makes up a bit for it.
The first thing to do is select a nice ripe zucchini and wash it up. Then, preheat your oven to 325 degrees and spray two 8×4 loaf pans with cooking spray. The larger loaf pans also work well.
Next, cut off the stem (we don’t need that kind of fiber in our diet) and the end where the flower was, and then cut it in half so that you can scoop out the seeds.
Once you’ve scooped out the seeds, shred it. You can use a hand shredder, but I prefer to use my Cuisinart. I use the fine-shred blade.
You’ll need about two cups of shredded zucchini to make the bread. If it goes over the 2-cup mark a little bit, that’s OK. Don’t drain the zucchini–that moisture is what helps keep the bread tender.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set that aside.
Next, pull out a large bowl. Mix the oil and sugar together until smooth. Then add the eggs and extracts. Beat the mixture until it’s a nice light yellow. I let the stand mixer do the beating for me, but you can use an electric hand mixer or do it by hand.
Then, pour the flour mix in and blend. Once it’s nice and even, and most of the lumps are gone, dump in the shredded zucchini. Add the nuts at this point, too, if you happen to like those. Mix in completely, but don’t beat the snot out of the batter.
Pour the batter into your pans that you’ve already sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake it for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick or tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Smaller loaf pans will take less time than the larger loaf pans. When done, cool the loaves in the pan on a rack for about 20 minutes. Then, remove the bread from the pan, set the loaves back on the rack, and let them finish cooling. Make sure they’re not in reach of any pets. My dog has gulped down an entire loaf at one time because I left it too close to the counter edge.
Once the loaves have cooled, you’ll be able to slice them more easily. However, I usually can’t wait that long. Melted butter on a hot slice of zucchini bread is heaven.
The Zucchini Bread Recipe:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (more or less to taste)
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (more or less to taste)
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 1/4 cups white sugar
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 2 cups grated zucchini (About 1 medium zucchini. Don’t drain after grating)
- 1 cup chopped almonds or pecans (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Spray two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans with cooking spray.
- Mix flour, salt, baking powder, soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
- Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the flour mix to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
- Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and let cool completely on the rack.
Enjoy one of the quintessential tastes of summer! If you have extra zucchini, you can shred them up and store them in freezer bags. I usually measure out two cups into each bag. They will come out a bit mushy from the freezer, so they’re not really good for sauteing at that point, but they’re great for more zucchini bread, zucchini cake, or added to lasagna. Just remember not to drain them. If the frozen zucchini lasts til winter, you’ll have a nice reminder of your harvest just at the point when you have horrible spring fever and are contemplating the next summer’s garden plan.
Feel free to leave comments and share your favorite ways to prepare zucchini!