Business

There’s a market for squash

Seal Bay zucchini - Submitted
Seal Bay zucchini
— image credit: Submitted

Special to the Record

Summer squash are coming in by the bushel to the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market right now and local farmers are eager to share the bounty. This week the market will host ‘Squash Fest’ in celebration of the abundant, health-promoting veggie.

As part of the market’s ‘Food Fests’ series, the event will feature tastings produced by chef Laura Agnew, from As You Like It Products and Catering as well as recipes, and activities for kids.

Events co-ordinator Vickey Brown is excited about the occasion.

“This month we are working in some activities for kids as well, market searches and squash identification. It’s a fun way to engage them with vegetables and include the whole family in the event.”

Summer squash come in a variety of shapes and sizes are easy to cook with and affordable. The most common are patti pans, zucchini, yellow squash and crookneck squash. Health studies have shown several health benefits in summer squash varieties. They have been shown to prevent cataracts with carotenoids, fight cancer with powerful antioxidants, build blood and balance blood sugar with plenty of B vitamins, and protect your heart and intestine with anti-inflammatory properties. Many of these nutrients lie in the skin of the squash, so do leave the skin on when you cook them.

Regardless of variety, all parts of summer squash are edible, including the flesh, seeds and skin. Some varieties of squash also produce edible flowers. Unlike winter squash, summer squash are more fragile and cannot be stored for long periods of time unless frozen. When purchasing summer squash, look for ones that are heavy for their size and have shiny, unblemished rinds, and are of average size since those that are overly large may be fibrous, while those that are overly small may be inferior in flavour.

Summer squash is very fragile and should be handled with care as small punctures will lead to decay. It should be stored unwashed in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, where it will keep for about seven days. If you do end up with too much, grate it and freeze it for later.

 

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