Written by Bunmi. Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
COURGETTES also known as Zucchini or summer squash.
Grow Your Own Crazy Courgettes are a vegetable commonly known for use in the Italian dish ratatouille and, more recently, found to be a good ingredient in baking cakes. They are available mid-summer usually. They come from the same family as cucumber, melon and squash but, unlike its other family varieties, it is easily grown outdoors. Courgette varieties vary and come in colours of greens and yellow and some have stripes.
Choose a solid, shiny courgette that isn’t too large in size. This will make it easier to Grow Your Own Crazy Courgettes. Any blemishes or squashy areas means that it is past its best and you should avoid purchasing. The best times to buy courgettes are between the months of June and September. Marrows, the larger grown courgette, should be found later in the year.
Both courgettes and marrows should be stored in the fridge for no longer than three days. You can freeze them for up to 12 months but the texture changes to be mushy and soft on defrost so only use if they are to be added to soups or stews over winter.
Grown in well-manured rich garden soil or suitable strong compost, these can be started off in vegetable plots, containers or, more recently, as an upright variety grown against a trellis. This year I am trying these for the first time.
From the onset of seedling stage, around mid-April, keep a close eye out for aphids, which can attack and stunt the growth as they start to mature.
Grow Your Own Crazy Courgettes reach maturity and are ready to be harvested when they are between ten and fifteen centimetres long. Growing the courgettes larger, to around thirty centimetres, they become young marrows but growth needs to be monitored carefully as damp gardens can make them rot.
NUTRITION AND HEALTH:
With only seventeen calories per 100 grams of courgette before cooking, these are a good vegetable to add to any low calorie dish for the diet-conscious.
High in Vitamin C and also Vitamins A and B6, this vegetable is good for cancer prevention and anyone on a lowering cholesterol diet. The courgette also has potassium and protein but by contrast is surprisingly low on calcium and iron.
To get maximum nutritional benefit, always prepare a courgette with the peel intact.
Through my own research, I have found allergy to courgette very rare. It seems the most common allergy is as a result of handling the vegetable causing a skin reaction or eye irritation. However, it could be assumed that this is due to the person preparing the vegetable touching their face at the same time. People who are allergic to courgette could also find they have a reaction to celery.
BABIES, CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY:
Grow Your Own Crazy Courgettes is a vegetable that can be introduced as a puree from the start of weaning. Remember that courgettes’ high content of water will make the baby dinner sloppy as a puree alone so it is advisable to use a partner vegetable such as carrot or sweet potato.
Children in the UK do not get used to eating this summer vegetable on a regular basis so it is generally one of those ‘don’t likes’ The best way to introduce this vegetable is sliced finely within a lasagne dish, ribboned within pasta or grilled with cheese. Remember that courgettes are also a great ingredient to use in cakes in order to add moisture.
Despite the elderly possibly growing up with vegetables growing in their gardens, many now avoid vegetables like courgettes because it is not recognised as a vegetable often used and tasted. If you have an elderly relative that has a poor appetite it is best to use this super-nutritious vegetable and add it chopped into mince or to make something sweet like muffins.
IDEAS FOR COOKING:
Grow Your Own Crazy Courgettes is relatively easy. They do not need peeling and can be thickly-sliced and shallow fried until just brown. Ratatouille is the most famous dish for using courgettes that people may come across. The best and most tastiest courgettes are usually the ones that are small or medium in size. Other ideas for using courgettes in cooking include:
Soups: Potato, tomato and cheese can be good to use with courgettes.
Pasta dishes: Cheese and tomato bake, lasagne, or ribboned pasta with a cheesy sauce.
Sweets: Baked in tarts or cakes or breads.
Salads: Finely sliced or cubed with other vegetables
Pickled/chutneys: Whole tiny courgettes are a great treat pickled.
They can also be used in stir fries or risottos.
Christopher Columbus first introduced the courgette to Europe.
Known to many as a zucchini but western Europeans tend to use the name courgette (French)
The flower of the plant is also edible, usually deep fried as a tempura.
The largest courgette/marrow in Britain weighed 65lbs, grown in Plymouth.
Grow Your Own Crazy Courgettes have more potassium than a banana.
To find more recipes by the lovely Hazel F visit our Grow Your Own section.