Know your Courgettes

  • The courgette, or zucchini in Italy and USA, is a small summer squash. 

  • Along with some other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. 

  • Courgette is the more more common name in Britain, New Zealand, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and South Africa, while zucchini is commonly used in North America, Australia, Germany and Italy.

  • Courgettes can be yellow, green or light green, and generally have a similar shape to a ridged cucumber, though a few cultivars are available that produce round or bottle-shaped fruit.

  • In a culinary context, courgette is treated as a vegetable, which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savoury dish or accompaniment. 

  • Botanically, however, the courgette is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female courgette flower.

  • When used for food, courgettes are usually picked when under 20 cm (8 in.) in length and the seeds are soft and immature. 

  • Mature courgettes can be as much as 1 metre (3 feet) long, but are often fibrous and not appetizing to eat. They are sometimes referred to as marrows, which is not correct as marrows are separate varieties of summer squash that grow to a large size and have good taste as well.

  • Courgettes with the flowers attached are a sign of a truly fresh and immature fruit, and are especially sought by many people.

  • Unlike cucumber, courgettes are usually served cooked. It can be prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, including steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as soufflés.

  • It also can be baked into a bread, or incorporated into a cake mix. 

  • Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.

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