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Tips to pick the best zucchini

I love zucchini, but am often disappointed. While ideally, I'd have my own garden, these days I'm limited to the grocery store and occasional Farmer's Market options. What are the best tips to pick the best zucchini? Do size, shape or color matter?

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  1. Smaller zucchini have better taste, so I pick the 5-6" ones. This is also true for growing them, pick them while they are smaller and more flavorful!

    At the store, I look at the stem to see if it's still healthy looking - not dried out, not shrunken, not moldy. Healthy = fresher.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bobabear

      So shorter length is better, is this also true for circumference? Some are short and quite rotund.

      1. re: fldhkybnva

        Younger is better.
        Different varieties have different shapes.

    2. Totally agree that smaller is better. Look for the unblemished, darker green ones. Heavy for their weight. The best tip is what bobabear said... Looking at the stem end is the best indication to tell whether it's fresh, or was picked a long time ago.

      1. Smaller, hard and shiny skinned with no puckering.

        1 Reply
        1. re: escondido123

          The stem end may be hard while the opposite end has begun to soften. Be sure to test each one to be sure that the blossom end is still firm.

          1. re: Cheese Boy

            Thanks for the link, it seems most of the zucchini in the store I frequent is the speckled type but helpful to know to avoid the darker green type.

          2. If you are getting farmers market zucchini, you want to buy smaller, slim squash. Later in the season, they will have had a chance to grow fat which means more seeds and softer flesh. You may want to consider scooping out the seeds if you use these.

            1. Thank for all of the tips. I actually found the smallest zucchini I've ever seen last week at Trader Joe's which worked great for zucchini noodles.

              1. Wherever I go at this time of the year, I never leave the car windows open because when I get back, it will be full of overgrown Zucchini.

                1. Yes, the smaller are better and freshness is key too. Super fresh, just picked zucchini, or any summer squash, have tiny prickly hairs that disappear over time and with plenty of handling, similar to pickling cucumbers. The hairier, the better.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: earthygoat

                    Great. I fear I might only be able to find the chunkers this week but perhaps that wouldn't be so bad if I'm using them for pasta as opposed to the focus of a dish. I will keep my eye out for prickly hairs.