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When to Pick Zucchini – Best Harvesting Tips + Recipe

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Zucchini squash plants are some of the easiest to grow and usually give abundant fruit production. Let me give you my best tips so you know when to pick zucchini for the best flavor! and then just in case you happen to miss one fruit and it gets enormous in size; I will also share the easiest zucchini muffin recipe at the end, so make sure you stick around until the end of the blog post!

zucchini plant with zucchini fruit ready to pick

When to pick zucchini – Best time to harvest zucchini

There are many zucchini varieties but generally speaking, the right harvest time for most varieties is when you see the following signs:

  1. Zucchini fruit is at least six inches long.
  2. You want tender fruits that are still firm. If you encounter a soft fruit it most likely means it is rotting inside.
  3. It’s a nice dark green color (if that’s the variety of zucchini you planted). Other types of zucchini can be yellow or white in color.
  4. Once you have a mature zucchini plant you should check the plant daily for more fruit to be harvested.

How to Harvest Zucchini

The best way to harvest zucchini from the plant is to use a sharp knife to cut from the plant. You do not want to tear or break young zucchinis from the stem because you might damage the rest of the stem.

Zucchini harvests start in early summer in warmer climate to mid-summer depending on what zone you live in.

Look closely for the first fruit under the large dark green leaves as they tend to blend in. This is one of the main reasons why home gardeners sometimes end up with overripe zucchinis.

Best Time of Day to Pick Zucchini

This really is all about your own preference.

Since harvest season is often during the hottest time of year; the ideal time to pick is either in the morning or evening after the sun has started to go down.

How To Harvest Zucchini Seeds

So throughout this article you will read over and over that the best time to pick zucchini is when it’s about six to eight inches long.

The reason for that is because that is when the fruit has the best flavor for eating.

But if you want to save zucchini seeds, which I strongly encourage you to save those seed; especially if you have an heirloom plant! then the right time to harvest the fruit is when it is too large to eat. That’s right. To harvest zucchini seeds you need to leave the fruit on the vine until it becomes giant.

Follow these simple steps to harvest zucchini seeds:

  1. Leave the fruit on the vine until it is very large and the skin becomes tough and thick.
  2. Cut open the fruit and scoop out the seeds.
  3. Put the seeds and goop you scooped out in a glass jar and add just enough water to cover everything. Leave sitting out for a couple of days. This is called fermenting the seeds and its a needed step because it helps with germination for the following planting season.
  4. Clean and rinse the seeds with clean water. Make sure to get all the extra flesh and goop you scooped out with the seeds cleaned off.
  5. When all the seeds are clean, fill a bowl with clean water and put the seeds in the bowl. All the seeds that sink to the bottom of the bowl are good seeds. The seeds that float on top of the water are empty seeds, so you can just throw those away.
  6. After you’ve discarded the dead seeds, gather all the good seeds that sunk to the bottom of the bowl and set them to dry. Place them in a single layer on a cotton kitchen towel or paper napkin in a warm spot.
  7. Leave them to dry for a couple of days or until you are sure they are completely dry.
  8. Once dry place them in a small paper envelope or in an amber glass jar, and store them in a dry dark place until you are ready to use. Make sure you label the envelope with the name and date you harvested those seeds. Make sure to keep all seeds out of direct sunlight.

What happens if you pick zucchini too early?

Usually the only draw back to picking zucchini too early is that the plant will begin to produce high yields of the fruit. The more often you pick zucchini, the more fruit the plant will produce. Sometimes A LOT more than your family will actually eat; unless of course you are also harvesting it to preserve for later use, then this will be good news to you.

Even if you pick young smaller fruits they will actually still be very tasty and useful in many recipes.

Should You Pick the Yellow Flowers From the Zucchini Plant?

Zucchini plant with ready to pick fruit and flowers
Zucchini flowers are actually very tasty.

Yes you absolutely can pick the flowers off your zucchini plant. But let me give you a quick tip on that topic:

Zucchini plants have female flowers and male flowers. Only the female flowers will produce the fruit. You will know it’s a female flower by the bump you see at the base of the flower, just below the blossom.

So while you CAN pick zucchini blossoms, make sure you leave a few male flowers so the bees and other garden insects will pollinate the female flowers and therefore produce the fruit.

Can I Freeze Fresh Zucchini?

I personally have had much success with freezing zucchini.

For best results, wash zucchini and pat dry.

Cut zucchini into small pieces. Cut length wise and then chop each side eight to ten times depending on the size you want.

Set all the pieces in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered with a silicon baking mat and put in the freezer for an hour or two.

Once frozen, transfer to a glass jar or put in freezer bags and return to the freezer for later use. Make sure to write the date on each freezer bag.

How Big Is Too Big For A Zucchini?

overgrown zucchini on the vine
Zucchini that is much too big

Zucchini are best harvested when they are about 6 or 7 inches long. The skin will still be tender and the seeds will be small.

If the zucchini gets too much larger than that, the fruit starts to get really tough and looses a lot of its flavor therefore making it less desirable for regular cooking.

You will notice the skin will be tough and when you cut it open the large seeds will take most of the room inside the fruit.

What Can I do With Zucchini that Got Too Big?

So what do you do with those giant zucchini fruits that seem to appear practically over night? You bake lots and lots of yummy breads and muffins!

We’ve done pretty good at keeping an eye on the zucchini plants this year and none of the zucchini have gotten too big, but they have not produced as much fruit as in previous years which is really a bummer!

So when my aunt asked if we wanted a couple of giant zucchini, I said YES PLEASE!

Giant zucchini are great for baked goods.

  • Bake flourless muffins (look for recipe below) or bake zucchini bread.
  • Dice and throw into soups or stews.
  • If the skin is not too tough you can make zucchini boats by scraping out the seeds and most of the insides leaving flesh but none of the seeds and goop. Then fill with a yummy filling and bake. Here are a few recipes for some inspiration.

When To Pick Zucchini

Flourless Zucchini Muffins Recipe Your Kids Will Actually Love!

If your kids are not fans of zucchini, this is the perfect way of sneaking it in without them even realizing they are eating it.

These Zucchini muffins are not only super quick and easy to make, but they are a no guilt dessert or a perfect breakfast on the go.

These muffins are made with only good for you ingredients and no refined sugar.

I originally found this recipe on the pinch of yum website but tweaked it a bit.

For example, I substituted coconut oil instead of using Olive oil, and added chia seeds and flax seeds to make them even more satisfying and nutritious.

I also wanted to make them even easier to prepare so since we’re using a blender anyway, instead of grating the zucchini I simply diced it.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

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flourless zucchini muffins topped with chocolate chunks
  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 8 pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups chopped zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of flaxseeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
  • dark chocolate chunks for topping (optional)
diced zucchini on a cutting board
dice the zucchini instead of grating it for a faster prep time

Flourless Zucchini Muffins Recipe Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Dice zucchini into small/medium chunks.
  3. Mix all Ingredients in the blender.
  4. Pour batter into silicone muffin liners or greased muffin pan.
  5. Top with dark chocolate chunks or another favorite topping.
  6. Bake for 17 minutes.

Recipe Notes:

  • You can play around with how many dates to add depending on how sweet you would like the muffins to be. I usually stay within the 8-10 dates ratio.

Don’t let those giant zucchini go to waste, bake a few batches of these delicious muffins! You can even freeze them for later 🙂

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zucchini muffins with dark chocolate chunks

Flourless Zucchini Muffins

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

These muffins are not only super easy to make ( just throw all the ingredients in the blender!) but they are healthy and satisfy that sweet tooth without any of the guilt.


  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 8 pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups chopped zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of flaxseeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
  • dark chocolate chunks for topping (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Dice zucchini into small/medium chunks.
  3. Add all ingredients to the blender and blend well. You want the mixture to look like a very thick pancake batter.
  4. Pour batter into greased or lined muffin pan.
  5. Top with dark chocolate chunks or other favorite topping.
  6. Bake for 17 minutes.
  7. Let cool for a few minutes on a cooling rack before eating.
  8. Enjoy!


You can play around with how many dates to add depending on how sweet you would like the muffins to be. I usually stay within the 8-10 dates ratio.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 195Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 31mgSodium 141mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 2gSugar 9gProtein 4g

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