A Sunny Day for the Cuccuzi

Cuccuzi squash vine rambling over the top of the trellis.
Cuccuzi gourd vines rambling over the top of the trellis.

 

The cuccuzi edible gourd (Langenaria siceraria) vines have outdone themselves this year. I tried growing this edible gourd in 2013 and 2014 but with no success. My first attempt produced a sickly seedling that didn’t even make a vine. The next year I was able to grow a vine which produced a few flowers and one very small squash before the whole thing was struck down by frost.

This year the cuccuzi is doing much better. The warm summer has certainly helped. There has been a succession of many showy white flowers for over a month. Sometimes there are 20 flowers a day. And now there are fruits a few of which are ready to harvest for eating.

The cucuzzi edible gourd is grown in many warm and tropical climate countries and goes by many names: pergola lagenaria (Italy), yugao (Japan), hu gua (China), upo (Philippines), bau (Viet Nam), and dudhi or lauki (India). Each country has many recipes and uses for this plant. I’ve chosen an Indian recipe (sorakaya sanagabedala kura) that will use chana dal (split lentils or peas, I will be using yellow split peas), salt, cumin, mustard seeds, and red chili powder. The recipe calls for grated coconut so I’ll need to buy one. I won’t be adding any asafoetida as I don’t know where I could find any around here. I might be able to substitute garlic but the flavor probably won’t be the same. Finally, there is the grain on which it will be served. Rice is not recommended as it reportedly does not go well with this cooked gourd or kura. Instead, a big spoonful kura is spread on a warmed chapati (flat bread) which is folded over and served with steamed vegetables as a side dish.

A full report after this weekend.

25 thoughts on “A Sunny Day for the Cuccuzi

  1. Well I am certainly looking forward to your full report later. It is all so interesting, new vegetables, new foods and recipes, lovely. Your cucubita squashes do look very good, and twenty flowers a day is amazing. A lovely read šŸ™‚

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      1. That is sensible always. I just recently read that if your gourd (I guess that is similar to what you are growing) tastes bitter, then do not eat it. Sorry I thought I should share this with you, I will try to find the source where I read it. I do not want to alarm you. Please ignore if you think this is an alarmist remark.

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        1. Thanks, and no, not alarmist at all. I’ve read about that and so the cautious approach. Many of the cases involved gourds being juiced which concentrate the cucurbitacins. The toxic chemical is all squash family plants (cucumbers, melons, squash, gourds) and is a potential hazard with any of them. Cucumbers and some dark skinned zucchinis are can contain high levels. The cause is a matter of genetics and cultivation (drought, infertile soil).

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          1. Bitter courgettes, it is interesting as not know very well, and with people going more into growing your own, people should know about it. A facebook friend of mine who is into wild plants and vegetable growing big time brought it up as it had been mentioned in the papers that a German couple died of eating home grown produce, namely courgettes.

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            1. It can be serious especially if the toxins are high and/or the persons health (heart disease, for example) not very good. I eat squash just about every day and have for years, skins and all, but have never had any bad effects or even found one that was bitter.

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              1. I guess it comes down to using your head with these things, like you I always try a little if it is a totally new vegetable. I grew a bitter gourd this summer, seed from India, but before I could eat my one gourd it had burst open and gone into seed šŸ™‚ though I ate plenty in India.

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                1. I think they’re safe if one takes into account the bitter taste. With any new food plant, especially one so unusual, I think it’s always a good idea to test it out first. One cuke I won’t eat is the wild cucumber. Very bitter taste. When I post on it I’ll describe the flavor (I’ve tasted them).

                  Processing scallopini squash again today and when I went through the garden this morning it looks like another bag full grew overnight.

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                    1. I’ve done a lot to bring up its fertility. Overall the soils around here tend to be poor- rocks, sand, and grit or deep beds of peat.

                      Have you tried growing scallopini squash? They are easy to grow, come in many colors, and bush form so they don’t take up much space.

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                    2. No have not tried to grow scallopini squash yet, might look into it next season. Here too much rocks in the soil, but I have got most of them out of my raised beds now.

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                    3. They’re a good producer for me and the fruit is very firm with a small seed cavity in the center. I was reading that if you let them get full sized they can be roasted like a winter squash so I’m going to try a few like that.

                      Just harvested some cucuzzis little while ago and have peeled and sliced them for cooking. I tasted the raw ones and no bitterness at all.

                      Hope your weather is as nice as ours today!

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                    4. Thank you, yes a most beautiful day today. Glad your cucuzzi turned out so well and tasty. Though it is Sunday, I continue my work outside as tomorrow there may be rain šŸ™‚

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  2. I’ve saved that recipe. It’s got several of my favorite things in it.

    Those vines look just like my birdhouse gourd. They’re not getting very big (and therefore usable) so I’m wondering if I should have been watering them more. Maybe I’ll give them a try again next year or even an edible gourd. Already thinking about what new things to try.

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    1. These are the same species as birdhouse gourd but the variety produces long fruits. Also, it is supposed to be less bitter tasting. There’s some risk in eating these I was reading as a bitter compound, cucurbitacin, that occurs in the fruits is toxic if over consumed. The varieties used for birdhouses and bottles have very high amounts, this one does not so I would recommend not eating any of the ornamental types. The edible gourd is grown to be eaten ans is used as food in many places but if they are overgrown or taste bitter they shouldn’t be eaten. I’m going to eat a small quantity the first time. Because this gourd has alleged healthful properties some people have gotten themselves sick by juicing them although they may have been juicing the non-food varieties. You should read this first:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4316287/

      As for me, I am going to try a very small portion to check my reaction to it. On the seed packets and in the catalogs where it is sold I’ve never read of any dangers. It may be that the toxic reactions are the result of overindulgence of the juiced gourd which has a higher concentration of cucubitacins. All squash, melons, and cucumbers contain these as well.

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