Corr blimey look at the size of those courgettes! Well if you've been on my facebook page you'll have seen my little video and the home grown courgettes I am very proud of!

Why Eat Courgettes?

In caf├ęs and simple restaurants across the UK, courgettes are frequently (mis)used to make a poor excuse of a ratatouille or the sort of unappetizing vegetable 'lasagne' only ever eaten by desperate vegetarians with no other menu choice. Courgettes (known as zucchini to Italians and Americans) are in fact beautifully tender vegetables with a fresh, delicate flavour.

CourgettesHistory

The origin of the courgette is not entirely clear, partly because common usage of the word courgette often relates to plants that transcend botanical classifications (see Biology section below). It was not widely eaten in Europe before the twentieth century and some sources claim that it was developed from the squash, first brought to Europe from the Americas during Christopher Columbus' crusades. Squash have been cultivated in Central America for more than five thousand years and courgettes play a prominent role in Mexican cuisine today.

As with the aubergine, the courgette was brought to the attention of Britons in the mid-twentieth century thanks to the writings of Elizabeth David.

Green and yellow courgettesBiology

A member of the cucurbit family, courgettes are related to watermelons, gherkins and cucumbers. Courgettes are usually marrows harvested at a young age, although the mature fruit of certain varieties of squash may also be sold as courgettes.

Nutrition

Courgettes have a high water content and are low in calories. They are a source of folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.

Tips on..

...BUYING
Smaller, younger courgettes have more flavour. Look for firm, heavy-feeling courgettes with unblemished bright and glossy skins.

...STORING
Up to 5 days in a fridge.


...PREPARING

Wash well and trim both ends. The courgette is a versatile ingredient and can be eaten raw, baked, fried, steamed, spiralised or stewed. If you've only tried it one way my challenge to you is to try a few more and see if you can add more to your food repetoire!

Courgette flowerFlowers

Courgette flowers can often be found on the menus of French or Italian restaurants. Smaller flowers are given a tempura treatment (fried in a light batter); larger flowers are typically stuffed with tomatoes and herbs or goat's cheese. Sadly I've not been able to touch the ones I've grown as the ants had moved into them :0(

Courgette with flower and withoutGrowing

Now this is only from my very brief experience and a fair bit of googling! Apparently they like to have a lot of space, so er yeah I have planted mine too close to each other (oops!) and also they don't like it to be too windy..hmm I live in Huddersfield it's always windy (oops again) - however mine do seem to be thriving.

To get the larger fruit (courgette) they need to be fertilized. The flower with the fruit below it is the female one and you'll notice there are some other flowers that have thinner stems that are the male ones. Now if you're plants are anything like mine they took a while to get both a male and a female flowering at the same time but now they have I use an old make up brush (soft bristles, small head) to take some of the pollen from the male flower and put it into the female flower. Hey presto I'm getting the BIG courgettes you can see on my video... well there's only one so far but it's big :0)

Get out there and enjoy your courgettes, I'd love to hear any recipes you have - please post on my facebook page and see you next month which might be beetroot if mine have grown a bit more! ;0p