Squash: The fruits of various members of the gourd family, which fall into two classifications, summer squash and winter squash.
Summer squash are a soft-shelled variety with thin edible skins and edible seeds. It has a tender flesh that requires only a short cooking time. They are very low in calories, high in vitamin C and high in fiber. Summer squash are picked immature while they are still tender and are generally eaten within a short period of time since they are very perishable. Summer squash can be prepared in several ways, such as steamed, baked, sautÃ©ed and deep-fat fried. Common varieties of summer squash include zucchini, pattypan and crookneck.
How to use: Summer squash can be eaten raw on its own, as an appetizer, in salads, or on sandwiches. Some summer squash, such as zucchini, can be grated and added to breads, cakes and muffins. Summer squash can also be added to other vegetables, stews, casseroles, and soups. They can also have stuffing added to them and then baked.
At their best: Summer squash are picked immature while they are still tender and are generally eaten within a short period of time since it is very perishable. In some areas, summer squash is available year round but their peak time is early summer to late summer.
How to buy: Select squash that have a shiny, bright colored skin, are heavy for their size, firm, and free of rust spots, bruises, and cracks. Avoid squash with a dull appearance, which is an indication that it is not fresh. Do not select squashes that are overly large because they tend to be fibrous and their flavor can be bitter. Too small of squash will lack flavor.
Storage: Handle summer squash with care because they are damaged very easily. They can be stored for four to five days if placed in a perforated plastic bag and placed in the refrigerator. Do not wash until ready to use.