Compost comes to mind, but I cannot shake off my New England upbringing, which includes maxims like “Waste not, want not.” You might ask, why do we even have a nine-month old zucchini? Is it possible it should be listed in Guinness’ world records as oldest known zucchini? Perhaps we should coat it in resin, and not eat it.
We are going to eat it, though, and I can answer why we have it. Like most gardeners, a surplus of zucchini is unavoidable, and we usually leave a dozen yard-long monsters hiding in the vines at the end of the season. They have won the right to decompose undisturbed. We have eaten, given, and processed all the zuke we can handle, and just have to let them lie.
The garden yields Hubbard, butternut and acorn squash for the winter, and we need to harvest and harden those for storing in the root cellar. We turn our eyes away from the torpedo-like zukes, though I feel they are watching me.
Winter squashes have firm skins which toughen and store well. Zucchini is best young and tender, when the thin green skins are almost as soft and edible as the flesh. We eat zucchini not long after it was a flower–sweet, tender and moist–so how did this large, very adult squash show up in May, after surviving a long, cold winter? We now know it spent time in a dark corner on the top shelf in the root cellar. I suspect it crawled there, but it is also possible my husband put it on that shelf.
He was the one who knew about it when I said innocently, “What shall I make for dinner?” He disappeared without a word, then produced this orange-yellow hard skinned two-foot long and nine-month old zucchini. I shouldn’t have asked.
We plan this year’s garden and assess what seeds we have from last year’s stock. We are full of the optimism and joy of seed catalog perusing, bursting with ideas for correcting last year’s bad garden choices, and prepping the soil. We have a dried stash of zucchini seeds. We are looking ahead to the new garden. Last year’s zucchini overload is history. Then this mammoth, antique, ugly, zucchini is handed to me.
It makes no sense. I am in a time warp. Zucchinis belong to summer, not root cellars. But here it is, and I never shirk a challenge. I did not bother looking online for help, just went with common sense. I took the tough bark off–no way I could call that brittle shell a peel–seeded it, and filleted it. It started to look less like an alien seed pod, and more like food.
Dinner well in hand, I did check things out. Guinness does not seem to have a world record for oldest zucchini, and therefore I claim mine as the oldest. It does however have records for biggest and longest. I was impressed. Bernard Lavery recorded the biggest, in weight, in 1990. His zuke weighed in at 64 pounds, 8 ounces. Giovanni Batista Scozzatara, who grew an amazing zuke in Niagara Falls, Canada, in 2014, recorded the longest on record. It was eight feet three inches. I guess my monster zukes are really just baby monsters.
Olive oil and garlic solves many problems, and soon the zucchini meat was tender.
I was not looking for 4-star dining, just edible. I covered it in a previously made eggplant, tomato and onion mix, a splash of orange juice, and some cheese. I was going for a homely eggplant Parmesan feel, so tossed it in the oven.
It wasn’t pretty, and I wouldn’t serve it to guests, but it was pretty good. It fact, I would not mind eating it again. Next year. In fact, I may even put more than one monster zuke down in the root cellar.