Most people will not object when we say that zucchini is easy to cultivate and harvest.
Even if you have not got a wonderful garden, you can have a good harvest of zucchini every season. Of course, you may have to set up your soil and add some fertilizers if you are looking for the best results.
Otherwise, it is all simple. But, even then, people are confused about when is the perfect time to pick zucchini.
As you know, you cannot pick zucchini when your mind tells you to. If you are looking for the best taste and tenderness, you have to time the harvest perfectly.
So, we figured that people have quite a few doubts regarding the harvest of this plant. In this article, we have tried to answer as many of those questions. We have also included some out-of-the-box questions if you are interested in them.
How Do I Know When to Pick My Zucchini?
As you can guess, you can use many indicators to understand whether it is the right time to pick your zucchini.
We have to set a few ground rules first.
- There are so many varieties of zucchini in the market right now. The exact time you need to wait until you see a fully-fledged zucchini fruit will depend on the type. As you know, some varieties provide a lot of importance to taste and tenderness. In these cases, you may have to wait for a few more weeks until you can pick the zucchini. At the same time, some mass production variants tend to provide you fruit within a limited period. Therefore, if you do not already, we suggest you check the ideal time for harvesting the zucchini variety you have bought.
- The harvest time also depends on the weather and other environmental conditions. Like many other plants from its family, zucchini also requires an impressive amount of sunlight to grow. Therefore, if you have a garden that receives bright sunlight for a few hours every day, the growth of zucchini would not be a problem. If the zucchini plant does not get enough sunlight or water for some reason, you can expect it to be late for harvest. You have to keep this factor in mind before getting ready for harvest.
You should check your zucchini plant regularly to see if it has reached maturity in light of these ground rules. Once you see some obvious signs, you can go ahead and think about harvesting the fruit.
We will now talk about the other vital aspect to note while picking zucchini: the fruit’s size and color.
More often than not, comparing the fruit you have with an ideal fruit of zucchini is an effective way to know if your zucchini is ready to be picked. Therefore, you have to pay attention to how it looks.
How Big Should A Zucchini Be When You Pick It?
Once again, the absolute numbers may vary depending on the zucchini variety that you have selected.
But, in general, you can harvest the regular zucchini fruit when they are 5″ to 7″ long. Some people refer to this size as the size of a billiard ball. Did you know that some people call regular zucchinis “Eight Ball?” Well, the reason has to do with the measurements we just mentioned.
While that was the case of a regular harvest, there are some alternative harvesting methods. Some people like to harvest mini zucchinis when they can.
If you can find the right market, you can quickly sell mini zucchinis without a problem. In that case, however, you can start harvesting the zucchini fruit when the measurements are around 2″ to 4″.
By following the second method, you can have a tender and superb supply of zucchini. If you did not know, an overgrown zucchini does not have many target customers in the market.
Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to pick them earlier than wait for them to be overgrown by even a bit. Anyway, if you are looking for a regular harvest, 5″ to 7″ is the measurement you have to keep in mind.
What Color Should Zucchini Be When Picked?
The color of the fruit is also an important indicator to know if it is the right time to harvest zucchini fruit.
The perfect version of a zucchini fruit will be tender and young, as you may know. The fruit can retail all its flavors and taste during this period. Therefore, zucchini fruits belonging to this phase in their lives have colors that may differ. Here are some examples that you can use.
Even though the exact colors vary based on the varieties, a ripened zucchini fruit would be dark green. However, some versions may also give you yellow and white-color zucchinis. For the most part, you can keep track of the dark green color to know whether the zucchini is up for harvest. Here is something else you should know, though:
It would be best if you did not wait until the fruit turns dark green completely. As we said earlier, you do not want overgrown fruit or over-ripened fruit.
Both these scenarios will affect the quality of the zucchini you get in the long run. Therefore, you should do some test picking when you see a regular-sized zucchini in green. It will ensure the maximum results and crops for you.
Now, we will answer some other questions regarding the zucchini harvest.
Will Zucchini Grow If I Pick the Flowers?
Zucchini flowers are some of the most demanded things people harvest from a zucchini plant.
Therefore, it is common that you want to pick some of these flowers, even before they become the fruit you can eat. You can use a few cooking ideas or eat these flowers raw. However, whether you pick the zucchini flowers would impact the growth of the zucchini.
To be precise, though, it is more about which zucchini flowers that you are picking. There are two types of flowers on a zucchini plant. The male flowers exist for the sake of pollination, and they die shortly after that.
On the other hand, female flowers are the ones that become the zucchini fruit. If you can tell these apart, there is no harm in picking all the male zucchini flowers you can find. But the case of female flowers is a different matter.
Even though you could pick a few female zucchini flowers — oh boy, they are the tastiest —, you must leave a few on the plant. If you pick all the flowers, you will not have any fruit in the season.
As for the suitable time to harvest the flowers, it will be when these flowers are about to make it to the ground. The core idea here is that your act of picking the flowers and eating them should not affect the plant’s fruit production.
On the other hand, if you want to grow a couple of zucchini plants for the delicious female flowers, it will be a great idea. And, if you can leave a flower or two after you feel good, you can have some zucchini fruit as well.
How Long Is Zucchini Good for After You Pick It?
The answer depends on how you decide to store the zucchini you have harvested. Here are some of the common scenarios.
- If you are looking for standard storage in your refrigerator, a fresh zucchini fruit will stay good for one or two weeks. It means you can pick the fruit today and have it with the same taste, probably one week after.
- If you want to store the zucchini for later consumption, though, the best option is to make a pickle or can the whole fruit. In this method, you can expect the zucchini fruit to stay fresh for a whopping ten months, which is excellent.
As you can see, zucchini is not so strict about survival. While the pickling/canning option is great, we recommend consuming the zucchini fruit as early as you can.
Because of the same theory, you have to deliver zucchini fruits almost instantly to restaurants and food markets. If you wait for the fruit to grow too much, you might miss some payment or a good taste.
Is Overgrown Zucchini Still Good?
Well, overgrown zucchini fruits are not bad, per se. From a utility point of view, you would not have trouble eating them.
We would not recommend eating these fruits raw. It happens because when you leave a zucchini to grow older, it will lose the precious taste and tenderness. Therefore, you may have a tough time eating them.
On the bright side, though, you can fix an overgrown zucchini through some time in cooking. The time spent with the heat will make the fruit more delicious.
Therefore, if you want to make a zucchini-based cookie or a cake, overgrown zucchini fruits will do the job. A cake or muffin made using a tender zucchini will taste better.