Are gourds edible? Are they not poisonous? There are people who may be wondering if all types of gourds are totally safe to eat. To answer that, we have to understand what gourds are and what the chances are of them being unsafe.
Gourds are a family of vegetables called cucurbitaceae that are usually found on dinner and living room tables as centerpieces. Sometimes, you can see customized crafts displayed on shelves and doors as ornaments. How about on the plates? Do you see them as a part of meals?
Cucurbitaceae is the scientific name in which gourds are included. This family plant is composed of large species, about 700. Aside from gourds, cucumber, squash, pumpkin, and zucchini are favorite vegetables that belong to this group.
If only focused, are gourds edible? Of course, but not all are safe or recommended to eat. In all kinds of gourds, only a few can be cooked and consumed. The rest should be set aside as home decorations and become useful regardless. Believe it or not, they, the inedible ones, can catch some attention and make your house more vibrant.
Differences Between Gourds and Squashes
Some people may be mistaken with gourds as squashes. They are completely different although there are a bit similar. What makes them easily recognized are from the basic physical qualities of each plant. Simply look at the shape and size of the fruits and check the leaves, stems and seeds. Those are the elements that make them different. It’s important to be familiar with those to give you an idea on what vegetable you are buying, picking or planting.
Since we already answered if are gourds edible, we need to identify which ones make sumptuous dishes. When buying, simply ask gourds for cooking. If you ask gourds in general, vendors may give you something for crafting or carving. You do not want to waste your money just to have ornaments. You need some for consumption or probably as additional collection to your garden.
Luffa, also spelled as loofah and otherwise known as Chinese okra, is a type of gourd that is typically popular in Asia. This is a long, dark green vegetable with hard rinds that grows up to 6 inches long.
Compared to luffa, cucuzzi has smooth, pale green skin. It is thinner and longer. This is also called as “Italian” gourd.
3. Bottle Gourd or Calabash
Although most popularly known as calabash or bottle gourd, this type of gourd has other names, which include white-flowered gourd, long melon, suzza melon and opo squash. It is almost perfectly similar to cucuzzi but this is fatter and sometimes shorter in size.
Growing and Harvesting Gourds
We’ve answered whether are gourds edible or not. Now that we have solved it, it also suggests that you can plant and grow gourds for consumption.
You need seeds to sow in rich, well-drained soil with organic matters. It must be planted in an area with direct full sun exposure. The best time is after winter or frost to be exact. However, you may plant seeds indoor during the last week of frost but allow 4 to 6 weeks before transferring outside or to another soil. When planting, make sure to dig 2 inches with 5 feet spaces per group. Each group must be consisted of 4 seeds.
Gourds need little care but every gardener must know the basics of growing vegetables. For instance, watering can be increased during dry, hot seasons. You also have to be watchful of pests, insects and diseases as well as weeds.
The perfect time to harvest gourds is when the color of the fruit has been fully developed. Also check the skin or rind if it’s hard.
Edible gourds can be used in a variety of dishes from soups to sautéed meals to baked foods. During preparation, peel the skin as this tends to be bitter.
Gourds for Decorations
It is very common during Halloween and when autumn starts to accentuate the home with cool, natural ornaments. Most often, gourds are used for this purpose.