Saturday, December 26, 2009

Courgettes and Zucchinis

It is suggested that this group of plants originated from a wild plant called Cucurbita pepo. In our gardens today we know it as Courgettes, zucchinis or marrow. They come in various sizes and shapes and colours.

While they can come in trailing or bush types the main ones grown today are the bush type. They are practical and fit well in the modern small garden. While there are different colours, mainly green and yellow, it is the green ones that are the best known.

People get confused about what to call these things that all come off the same bush. Simply the small ones cut very early, say up to 125mm long, are Courgettes, and up to half grown they are zucchinis and full grown are marrows. However zucchinis that grow up to about 250mm are the best. Any larger they are starting to turn into marrows. It is easy to tell when they are turning to marrows as the centre of the fruit starts to get pithy and the immature seeds are quite visible. Location and sunlight may dictate earlier maturity in some locations.

Regular picking, often daily, will encourage further fruiting. Letting some fruits grow into marrows will slow down fruit production.

Plant out up to six plants for a family and if there is only tow of you 3-4 plants is sufficient. Choose a sunny well drained space and plant quite a distance apart as these plants can get quite big, say up to 600mm across. Once growing well they should fruit quickly and regularly.

Pick the fruit daily if needed and if not used place in the cool part of your fridge for later use.

Courgettes and zucchinis make a great summer vegetable. Wash and cook in a little butter in a fry pan. Or cook with chopped onions and if needed add some tomato pieces. It is versatile and easy.

Dealing with excess fruit is a bit more difficult depending upon your taste. Frozen pieces of zucchini are in my view quite tasteless and go watery very quickly. One solution when you have excess tomatoes and zucchinis is to boil up the tomatoes, pulp them and re heat adding grated zucchini and cook quickly.  When cooler place the mixture of tomato and zucchini in pots and freeze. It makes a great base for soup and stir fry or mince dishes in winter.

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