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Baby Zephyr Squash
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Zephyr squash is easily distinguished by its slender crooked shape and its signature two-toned appearance. Its stem end carries a faded yellow color while its blossom end is dipped in a pale lime green. Under stressful growing conditions such as high heat or lack of water the amount of green coloring can vary. Its thin skin is smooth and glossy and may also be lined with faint white striations running the length of the squash. Its fruits can be picked at several stages of maturity though they will be at their most tender and flavorful when four to seven inches in length. Its tender creamy-yellow hued flesh is rich in dry matter and has a sweet and nutty flavor with a slightly grassy finish. In addition to the fruit of the plant, the leaves and the flower blossoms are also edible and offer a subtle summer squash flavor.
Zephyr squash is available in the summer months.
Zephyr squash is a relatively new type of summer squash and botanically a part of Cucurbita pepo. A highly productive hybrid variety the Zephyr is a constricted neck type of squash, similar to that of yellow crookneck squash. It was bread specifically to have superior taste, quality and adaptability. Its fruit can be harvested at varying stages of maturity, with the medium size of five to seven inches being the most recommended for the marketplace. Additionally, like many other petite summer squashes they can be harvested with or without their blossom still attached.
Zephyr squash offers an excellent source of dietary fiber as well as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, folate and copper. Additionally it is a source of carotenoids which are not only responsible for the yellow hue of the Zephyr squash but also act as antioxidants in the human body.
Similar to other petite summer squash the Zephyr squash is tender enough to be consumed raw or it can be utilized in a number of cooked preparations. Additionally the skin of the Zephyr need not be removed prior to use as it is delicate enough to consume. The skin of the Zephyr is in fact one of its selling points as the dual color showcases beautifully in dishes, particularly when sliced thinly into ribbons lengthwise. Thinly sliced or shredded raw squash can be added to salads, coleslaws, potato pancakes and batter for quick breads. Shaved squash can also be used in carpaccio or as a pasta substitute when paired with sauces. When cooked Zephyr squash can be steamed, baked, roasted, grilled, stir-fried or dipped in batter and deep fried. Pair with other summer vegetables such as eggplant, tomato, corn and shelling beans, with fresh herbs and cheeses, citrus, poultry, seafood, greens and nuts. Most summer squash will keep best if kept dry and refrigerated for up to one week.
The term “squash” comes from the Native American term “askutasquash” which translates to mean, something that is eaten in its unripe or green state.
The Zephyr squash is a hybrid squash developed in 1999 by Rob Johnson of Johnny Seeds. Its parentage is that of a yellow crookneck squash and another hybrid squash that was a cross between an acorn squash and a delicata squash. Like many summer types Zephyr squash are considered easy to grow, thriving in full sun, warm weather and rich, well-draining soil. Similar to other crooknecks the Zephyr squash grows in an open habit and will be a prolific producer of both fruit and squash blossoms.
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