Zucchini is a nutritious green vegetable that tastes best when freshly harvested. Zucchini plants are a type of squash, which means that in their peak summer season they grow so quickly you can almost watch them get bigger. A ripe zucchini left on the vine even for one day too long can become so big that it becomes woody and tasteless. Knowing when to harvest zucchini and zucchini blossoms insures the sweetest, most flavorful fruit.
Cut baby zucchini off the plant when the fruit is 4 to 6 inches long. This is when zucchini tastes the best and has the tenderest skin. Immature zucchini can be eaten raw or cooked. Leave at least 1/2 inch of stem when you harvest zucchini.
Harvest larger zucchini fruits when they are 2 inches in diameter and 8 inches long or less. A zucchini this size is still tasty when cooked, though you may have to peel or partially peel it.
Use very large zucchini for bread or hollow it out to stuff it. Sometimes you might miss a fruit that is small one day and giant the next. Large zucchini doesn't have much flavor at all and the skins are tough, but it still has some nutritional value. Shred large zucchini to make into bread or cake, or stuff the hollowed skins with bread and other vegetables and bake it in the oven.
Harvest edible squash blossoms from zucchini plants in the morning just after the dew has dried. Cut the blossoms as close to the plant as possible. Keep in mind that fruit won't grow if you cut the blossom before the zucchini appears. Blossoms on fruit can also be eaten, but they are tastiest before they produce fruit.
Store zucchini in the fridge without washing it, as moisture damages the delicate skin. It will keep in cold storage for up to a week. Shredded zucchini for bread can be stored in the freezer in a sealed container for 6 to 8 months. Use squash blossoms the same day you harvest them. Store them in the fridge with the stems in a glass of water.