Zucchini, Squash and Courgette

20 Dec
The difference between these has always confused me. I kinda knew that courgette was the french word for zucchini but where in the world did squash fit in. Squash was made even more confusing because the English call pumpkins squash.

A few months ago I planted some Yellow Straightneck Zucchini from seed and it really hasn’t gone all that well. Especially compared to the plants growing at a friends place I visited on the weekend where they are inundated with zucchini’s. Turns out that there are male and female flowers and that they had to manually pollinate the female using the male. Luckily we had this conversation before the 2nd bottle of wine was opened. 🙂

On the back of that conversation here’s my few hours worth of research.

Zucchini is the Italian name for a type of summer squash. Folks in North America, Australia and Germany use this. In France, Ireland, UK, Greece and New Zealand it’s known as a courgette.

A summer squash (cucurbito pepo) differs from a winter squash (cucurbito maxima or cucurbito moschata) in that it’s picked when it’s immature (the skin is tender and edible). Winter squash, such as pumpkin’s, are are mature with ripen seeds and a hard skin.

Here a good site listing the types of summer squashes if you want to know the different types. Something I learnt from this site is that my Yellow Straightneck Zucchini is open-pollinated, meaning that it needs to be pollinated from other flowers. I thought it was an heirloom variety.

Open pollinating fruits need female and male flowers. Female flowers have a baby zucchini below the flower while the male is just a flower. Normally bee’s or the wind would pollinate the females but I think I’ll need to hand pollinate. Once you pick the male flowers and pollinate the female the male flower can be stuffed with blue cheese and deep fried in a beer batter for instance. I went to the garden today to “pollinate” my flowers but there’s no females.

When selecting a zucchini from the shop did you know that smaller is better? Less than 20cm is the ideal otherwise the flesh can be watery and fibrous. Good tip when growing them as well.

Squash are up  there with the top healthiest foods with massive amounts of potassium and vitamin A (the summer squash, Butternut has the highest Vit A). Squash are known as “high volume” foods meaning they are filling but have a very low calorific value which works great for weight loss diets. Something I found interesting was that for summer squash most of the nutrient content is locked up in the skin. Therefore, never peel the zucchini skin which I’m known to do.

To finish off, some nice complements to the zucchini and other summer squash are dill, marjoram and cumin. However use them sparingly, their high water content means that strong flavours will overwhelm the subtle flavours.


2 Responses to “Zucchini, Squash and Courgette”

  1. Anonymous December 21, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    If you want to attract bees into your garden then plant bee attracting herbs such as borage. Buy one and plant it then allow it to go to seed and either allow the new plants to grow wherever or harvest the seed and plant them. It is bes to get the borage early in spring so the bees are around when your flowers need pollinating

  2. Lincoln December 21, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    Thanks for the tip. I dont know anything about borage but a quick check suggests it could be a fun plant to grow and eat.

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