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There's a strange orange gel-like substance on the surface of a zucchini that's been sitting in my kitchen for a few days. It's a bit like tiny globs of orange marmalade. Any idea what it could be? Is the zucchini going bad?

EDIT I tried wiping the "gel" off with a paper towel; it's firm, like resin.

Photo

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    That looks like a zucchini...? I suspect it's sugars from the fruit that are leaking out of the cut end, then water evaporating. Best to keep such fruits in the fridge. Is it soft, moldy, or otherwise showing signs of rotting?
    – hoc_age
    Aug 26, 2015 at 9:26
  • @hoc_age: Definitely a zucchini. Aug 26, 2015 at 12:27
  • @hoc_age Augh, you're right, it's a zucchini, of course. It does not seem soft/smelly/etc. Aug 26, 2015 at 13:53

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The cut end of your zucchini (courgette) looks like it's exuding some water/sap that was previously in the fruit. The colour is due to the rest of the "stuff" in the sap besides water: e.g., perhaps sugars, starches and other stuff. As the water evaporates, it looks like what you show in the picture, which will also explain the beads of goo being stiff or tacky. That is common to occur with certain fruits, especially squashes, and especially at the stem-end, as you're showing in your picture. You can see the same thing happen when cutting the fruit cross-wise (across the fibers), and especially with freshly-picked specimens. I notice this especially with fresh butternut squash.

Unless it's soft, moldy, or otherwise showing signs of rotting, it's probably fine to eat. Cut the ugly bit(s) off and discard just before using... or otherwise the newly exposed flesh will exude more sap! It's probably got some temporary protective properties against fluid loss.

With fresh (summer) squashes, at room temperature, they'll start to get starchy and soft rather quickly. Putting them in the refrigerator (i.e., humidity/temperature control) can slow this process, but you've really only got a few days until the fruit starts going downhill quickly. So in this sense, it is "going bad" -- this process starts as soon as it's picked! Eat it up. With winter squashes, on the other hand, you've got much more time.

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  • Also, glad we've got the fruit type straight -- zucchini (courgette), not cucumber! :) Though a similar "weeping" of sap can also happen in cucumbers and other similar fruits.
    – hoc_age
    Aug 26, 2015 at 15:39
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Your zucchini (courgette) was loosing sap at the stem end. Apparently, someone by mistake cut the fruit and not only the stem, which will lead to "weeping".
The photo below shows an extremely fresh zucchini that was harvested midday in full sun (= lots of water rising within the plant) and then cut into the flesh, mimicking the cut on your specimen: Note the clear drops appearing within seconds.

weeping

This liquid is nature's way of "bleeding" and closing the wound, forming a scab-like layer on the fruit, preventing mold and bacteria from entering, at least up to a certain level. See below how these drops appear on a "wound" created by a vegetable peeler.

peeled

When the sap dries, it darkens and solidifies, turning orangeish. Unless you notice any soft spot or mold, your zucchini is absulutely fine. In fact, it "preserved itself". Cut off a slice at the former wound because the scab is dry and rubbery and use as usual.

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It's a bit hard to see on the picture, but could they be cucumber-seeds? Some seeds create a gel-like covering before sprouting, and cucumber may be among them (You can observe when when sprouting cress on paper-towels or similar substrates, as well).

I am not sure about how it affects the edibility, though.

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