Zucchini: Deserving of a Little Respect!

By Jean Blish Siers *

pickles and chow chow

This freshly-made stash of pickles and chow chow will extend the harvest well into the winter.

Zucchini … the Rodney Dangerfield of the vegetable world (although it is technically a fruit,) it gets no respect. There’s even a “National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day,” when it’s fair game to give away the prolific produce without permission. (Mark your calendars for August 8, and feel free to leave some for me!)

I’m going on record as one of the people who loves zucchini. It’s a chameleon in the kitchen, a vegetable that can do it all. And as a gleaning coordinator, I love it because even in a tough year like this one, where rain seldom falls and the thermometer hovers north of 90 degrees almost every day in North Carolina, the farmers still call me to send trucks to pick up zucchini. In June alone, just in the Charlotte area, we moved more than 14,000 pounds of zucchini and yellow squash to at least seven counties.

Those kinds of numbers amaze people. I’ve been doing this job for four years now and they still amaze me! All that lovely produce, and it would be in a big old compost pile or the landfill if not for our generous farmers who hold it for us until I can get drivers out, and our drivers who travel sometimes an hour or more to bring it back to the ministries they serve. I love the image of all those pickup trucks, zipping across a map of the Charlotte metro region, with huge bins of zucchini in the back, waiting to be bagged and distributed to folks who will do all kinds of wonderful things with it.

I was lucky enough a couple weeks ago to receive what I call a Zucchini Windfall! Not 1,000-pound bin by any means, which is what gets fork-lifted onto my drivers’ trucks, but, for me, a joyful and abundant treat! I pulled out my mother’s old canning cookbooks, did some tapping around on the Internet, and got busy.

zucchni fritters

Zucchini fritters – breakfast of champions!

I made a double batch of zucchini bread and butter pickles, which will bring any sandwich to life. Ten pints are canned and waiting to provide sunshine in the winter. I also made eight half-pints of zucchini chow chow. And a zucchini cake (recipe here). And a spiralized zucchini salad. And grilled zucchini. And zucchini fritters. And zucchini pad Thai.

It brings me great joy each time I hear back from one of my drivers. One, who took 1,000 pounds to a pair of ministries in Rowan County, called and said, “They cleaned out the truck and asked when I could bring more!” Another driver delivered to a low-income apartment community in Charlotte, where people from all over the world live. He said when the word went out that he had a truckload of zucchini, folks came pouring out of the buildings with grocery bags, just to get a few pounds! We’ve sent it soup kitchens, food pantries, and refugee ministries.

I don’t know if they’re doing as many crazy things with zucchini as I did, but I know it’s eaten and greatly appreciated.  In a world where there is so much hunger, it’s always a miracle that we can fill each other with caring, and also with, yes, zucchini.

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator.

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VOLUNTEER WAIVER

In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.