Cucurbit Quest – Courgettes and Summer Squash

I’m looking for perfection. Does it exist? Unlikely. But I’ll have a lot of fun trying.

I started growing courgettes on a whim in my old garden in London, and fell in love with the taste of  them, picked young and lightly fried with some garlic and chilli.

Some years on, and a bit of research has lead me to various varieties, grown for colour, to eat raw, for stuffing, for grilling – you name it. So I’m looking for the perfect yellow courgette, I need to find one that’s not an F1, the perfect light green-white one for grilling, a great summer squash and one for stuffing.

This year’s grow list includes – Jemmer, Cavili, White Volunteer Cousa, and Yellow Crookneck amongst others.

Jemmer, is a lovely bright yellow courgette that is great for picking young and eating raw in salads

Cavili, possibly my favourite, is a pale green, almost white straight courgette that has nice firm flesh, and grills or fry’s superbly and a fabulous flavour. Unfortunately for seed saving it’s an F1, and so would take me years to grow out and stabilise, maybe that’s a project for my retirement! It’s also unusual in that it produces in poor weather conditions – low light and cooler temperatures. Perfect for this July.

‘White Volunteer’ Cousa Courgette  from Real Seeds  They describe it as an  “amazing variety, starts early and is a prolific producer of short, fat, white courgettes. They start producing fast, and then just keep making more and more fruit as the season goes on. They also have a good dense texture and stay firm and delicious even when large. ”

As far as I’m concerned the “Jury is still out” on this one. I’m trying to find a great courgette for stuffing that is tasty and not too watery. I’m still undecided on this particular Cousa. So the search goes on.

Summer Crookneck is new for me this year, and I’ve just picked the first one. It’s another variety that has had rave reviews, and having never knowingly eaten summer squash before, as opposed to winter squash and courgettes, I’m mighty curious to see how it tastes. It’s nobbly and bobbly, and so far, has been producing well considering how the weather in July has panned out. Baker Creek describe this one as “An old favorite heirloom, this is one of the oldest types of squash dating back to pre-Columbus times and has been popular ever since. Easy to grow and good tasting”

Rugosa Friulana – another one picked up in the Wyvale 50p seed sale last year. How could I resist something so nobbly and warty. Seeds of Italy describe it as  a “traditional Venetian courgette variety has one of the best flavours and lends itself we to dishes that take longer to cook as it’s slightly firmer”.

Serpente Di Sicilia  from Seeds of Italy, is proving to be a little bit different from other squash, in that the one I’m growing has creamy-white flowers as opposed to the normal bright yellow flowers of cucurbits. Seeds of Italy describe it as follows – ” ‘Sicilian Snakes’ – obvious to see why this unusual squash got the name.  Commonly known in the US and by Sicilians as ‘Cuccuzze’. Cook like a courgette. Fruits can grow over 2 metres in length. ”

The Quest is on! And reading back the title of this post – Cucurbit Quest, I can’t help but think it sounds like some kind of lasar game like quasar, well I guess tracking down the “perfect” courgette could be considered as a game, just maybe not a computerised one!

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