I’m a passionate gardener. I’ve been growing food for almost 30 years now, and have carved out garden space everywhere I’ve ever lived, including such far flung places as Alaska and New Orleans. I love to have my hands in the soil and love to harvest my own homegrown food. I love to read about gardening, talk about gardening, and even just think about gardening.
But, I’m a bit lazy. Well, maybe not lazy exactly. Rather, something like the “free-range parenting” model — I give the soil plenty of nutrients and compost to give my plants a good start in life, I water regularly and I’m there when times are tough (like aphid infestations). But at some point, I expect my growing plants to start exercising some independence. In other words, I like plants that can more or less take care of themselves.
I especially like plants that are easy to grow and produce heavy crops of tasty food. Enter the humble zucchini.
Zucchini really doesn’t get the respect it deserves. This care-free plant just keeps on giving, to the point of being a seasonal joke. Now, I know how “plenty” can quickly become burdensome when your kitchen is already stacked with it, but the next time you are staring at a countertop full of zucchini, take a deep breath and a mental step back. Clear your mind and honor the abundance, the generosity of this giving plant.
And then get out your grater.
Grated zucchini, mixed with a little sugar to help preserve it, keeps great in the freezer and works fantastically well in baked goods all winter. You can use any size zucchini, but I think this is an especially useful technique for “the ones that got away.” If using those monsters, just peel the tough skin off and scoop out the hardening seeds; small to medium zukes will be fine grated whole.
Preserving Zucchini in the FreezerStep 1: Find some counter space in amongst the piles of squash
Step 2: Grate zucchini and pack into a measuring cup
Step 3: For each 2 cups of well-packed zucchini, mix in ½ cup of sugar
Step 4: Pack tightly into wide-mouth pint size canning jars, leaving a full inch of headspace
Step 5: Store in the freezer up to a year
This super-easy preserving technique makes quick work of a pile of zucchini, and stockpiles the abundance for leaner times. You’ll be making zucchini bread and chocolate zucchini cake all winter with this hoard of summer goodness.
What? You’ve never had chocolate zucchini cake? You’re in for a treat! You can’t taste the zucchini at all, but it somehow makes for a deeply chocolatey and incredibly moist cake. Perfect in the icy depths of winter. Or the sweltering heat of summer for that matter— chocolate knows no season.
Chocolate Zucchini Abundance Cake RecipeMakes one 9-by-13-inch cake
- 2 cups well-packed fresh zucchini or a pint jar from the freezer
- ½ cups sugar if using fresh zucchini, or 1 cup if using frozen
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter and flour, or parchment paper. If using fresh zucchini, mix with the sugar and allow to set for 10 minutes to soften.
2. Whisk eggs, oil and cocoa powder together until smooth. Whisk remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then stir into the egg mixture, add the zucchini (including any accumulated juices) and stir the batter until no streaks of flour remain.
3. Pour into prepared dish and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a rack.
4. When the cake has completely cooled, top with your favorite frosting or simply a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy the abundance of summer, no matter the season.
Calamity Jane is a natural educator who has been writing and teaching for many years, most recently at Homegrown Home, where she shares quick tips and deep thoughts on the subject of backyard homesteading. You can find her on Facebook, and check out Calamity’s online classes in everything from gardening to bread baking to chicken keeping. Although she welcomes anyone in her classes, her real passion lies in supporting busy mamas, in real life, as they move forward on their path towards an abundant home and homestead. Read all of Calamity’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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