Zucchini, or corgettes, are thin-skinned vegetables with few calories. They are one of the most versatile vegetables in the kitchen. Zucchini can be baked, boiled, fried or used in soups, and are a staple in the traditional French ratatouille. Zucchini are commonly harvested at between 15 and 20 cm in length, but can be fully matured into much larger marrow varieties.
Hybrid vs. Heirloom
A hybrid plant is made by crossing two parent seeds from plants with desired characteristics. Hybrids produce uniform fruits with specific characteristics from both parent seeds.
Heirloom plants are varieties indigenous to a specific area, having survived several generations. Heirloom varieties often have stronger and richer flavors, but lack the durability to survive in commercial markets.
Ambassador and Black Coral
The ambassador plant produces medium- to dark-green cylindrical fruits, with firm white flesh. It is a hybrid plant, yielding large amounts of fruit throughout summer and well into autumn. Fruits are best harvested at 15 to 20 cm in length.
Black coral is an open bush plant, allowing easy access for picking. It produces a cylindrical fruit with dark-green skin. Black coral is a hybrid plant, yielding high amounts of fruit. Fruits are best harvested at 20 cm.
Gold Rush and Zephyr
Gold Rush plants produce a cylindrical zucchini with a vibrant golden-yellow skin and bright-green stems. It is an open hybrid plant, allowing for easy harvesting and high yields. Gold Rush zucchini fruits have a creamy texture and a rich, nutty flavor.
Zephyr plants produce a bi-colored fruit, yellow from the stem to the bottom fifth of the fruit, where the flesh turns a pale-green color. Zephyr is a hybrid plant and should be harvested young: at 10 to 15 cm in length. Zephyrs produce fruits with firm texture and rich, nutty flavor.
Cocozelle and Costata Romanesco
Cocozelle is an Italian heirloom variety of zucchini. It is green-skinned with white stripes, and has a long cylindrical shape with prominent ribs. Harvest cocozelle zucchini young, shortly after the blossom falls away, or let fully mature to a large marrow size to be stuffed.
Costata Romanesco plants are an Italian heirloom variety with prominent ribs and a grey-green color with pale speckles. The plant yields smaller amounts of fruit than hybrid zucchini plants, but fruits have a starchier texture and richer, nutty flavor. Costata Romanesco produces large amounts of male blossoms.
Rampicante, Zucchini Florence and Ronde Niche
Rampicante, often referred to as little trombone squash and Albegna pumpkin, is an Italian heirloom variety of zucchini, producing curved fruits that range in color from pale green to light yellow. Rampicantes can be harvested young for use in recipes such as summer squash, or fully matured for use in pumpkin dishes. Rampicante is often stuffed in gnocchi and ravioli.
Zucchini Florence is an Italian heirloom harvested with the flower attached to the fruit. Florence fruits are longer and thinner cylinders than most zucchini, with dark-green skin and light stripes. Fruits have a creamy texture and rich, nutty flavor.
Ronde Niche is a French heirloom variety, producing small, round fruits 7.5 cm in diameter. Their tender flesh bruises easily, preventing sales in many retail grocery stores. Fruits can be fully matured and hollowed out for stuffing.
- Photo Credit thomas pix; flickr.com, ilovebutter;flickr.com, yearofeats;flickr.com
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