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September Trail Bytes: Zucchini, the Last but not Least Word in Food Dehydration
September 07, 2021
Good manners require that you select at least two items when the party host puts out a platter of raw zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, carrots, and celery. At the hub of this display—a bowl of ranch dressing. Points scored for color and making a healthy show of it, but notice the guests reaching for the Doritos. Now here comes a pleasant surprise—a zucchini casserole bubbles in the oven; things are looking up.
This time of year, zucchini shows up everywhere. Even the neighbor, who was away on vacation last week, selects a few extra-large zucchinis from her garden and leaves them on your doorstep. Let’s hope she remembers you again come apple pie season. Dominique and I don’t have a garden, but on our walks around Pfäffikon, we appraise, in a Henry David Thoreau kind of way, the progress of our farmers.
Thoreau, the writer and one-time cabin builder, walked daily past the farms in Concord, Massachusetts, imbibing the scents and bucolic scenes, owning each farm in his imagination with full benefits and no toiling in the soil. After an experiment where he harvested twelve bushels of beans from his squatter’s field near Walden Pond, he concluded that going to the woods, tilling only his fertile mind to the depths of his soul, was the better use of his time. And so it was.
As for zucchinis, Thoreau noted in his journal, “All that I ever got a premium for was a monstrous squash—so coarse that nobody could eat it.” Farmers are doing better here in Pfäffikon. The Wanderweg runs along their fields. Curious folks wander by and see the action up close. Yesterday the corn cobs grew a little more hair. Today the fields cry out zucchini, zucchini, zucchini. It’s time to pick zucchini!
If you consult Betty Crocker over at General Mills, she will give you a recipe for zucchini pie. That will take care of one zucchini. For the rest of the load, look no further than your dehydrator. At 94% water, fifty pounds of zucchinis will fit in a quart-size jar after drying. Pick zucchini before it reaches zeppelin proportions, since by then you will contend with mature seeds and tougher skins. When your neighbor drops one of these on you, re-gift it to someone down the street. Who knows, it might show up at the next party, hollowed out and stuffed with artichoke dip.
With only 3.1 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams, zucchini is a lightweight compared to the potato, which weighs in at 17 grams of carbs per 100 grams. Some folks are reducing carbohydrates in their diets, so this is good news for them, especially since zucchini makes up for its lack of calories with a respectable contribution of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. Zucchini skins are high in flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants like carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin. They fight free radicals—the bad guys in our bodies. This is why your neighbor has youthful skin and a healthy digestive system, something she told you at the last party.
How can we work more zucchini into backpacking meals? Ratatouille, made with or without eggplant, is one of my favorites. It’s nice with rice or pasta, and I use it as the vegetable component in Three Sisters Stew, one of the recipes featured in Recipes for Adventure II: The Best of Trail Bytes. You can cut zucchini into all kinds of shapes before drying it: cubes, skins, chips, and noodles.
Turn potato bark into nutritious vegetable-potato bark with the addition of steamed zucchini. Grind that bark into powder and use it to make soup.
Any meal with tomato sauce improves with a pinch of dried zucchini. And let’s not overlook the ultimate zucchini destination—zucchini casserole with a crumbled-cracker and cheese topping,
You’ll find instructions and recipes on the new Backpacking Chef webpage:
Update:Recipes for Adventure II: The Best of Trail Bytes, Print Edition
Now projecting completion in October or early November. We had to reassign the project to a new formatter, and we are very excited to have found a talented designer who is doing great work.
Thank you to everyone who has purchased the book in digital format.
Walking around Pfäffikon with my sweetheart never gets old, but somehow the time passed. Dominique and I are celebrating our 10th Anniversary. Alles Gute zum Jubiläum. After ten years, I still can’t pronounce that last word with confidence, but she loves me anyway.
See you next month.
Chef Glenn & Dominique
P.S. To contact me, please reply to this email or use this contact form.
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