Courgete sott'olio

04/04/2010 - 07:44

After an abscence I am back with a query. Last summer in the UK I grew two varieties of Courgettes, Tondo and Fiorentina, because of the glut I decided to preserve them in OLive Oil. I blanched the courgettes according to the recipe and am now enjoying the result. The only surprise is that when cooked there is a slight sharp taste to the courgettes, so far only tasted the Tondo, which is suggestive of pickling rather then preserving.   Anyone else come across this?   Brian


Did you taste the courgettes before blanching them? Were they slightly bitter? Did you notice that same taste if you sauteed them with oil and garlic? Zucchini have some natural toxins called "cucurbaticins" which give a bitter taste, sometimes very strong. This can spread through pollination to other garden vegetables, particularly squash or cucumbers. Perhaps, it is not your plants but they got the toxin also because of pollination. This happens to homegrown zucchinis. Commercial varieties are treated. 

Many thanks Gala, my apologies for the wrong spelling of the wrong language. I cannot recall that those zucchini I ate last year were particularly bitter, as I said it is only a suggestion of taste but it is so unexpected but not unpleasant as we are eagerly chomping through them.  

Did not know about problems caused by pollination from courgettes to other squash type veg..... Will soon plant out cougettes, squahes and cucumbers - how far away must I plant courgettes from others or can / should you not grow them all together....Any advice appreciated as this is first year of growing veg here.

I think that it would not be a problem to have them together.... as long as none of the plants are infected by the toxin. There is no guarantee, as the problem may come from a neighbour's vegetable garden and it spreads through pollination. As everything to do with gardening or growing vegetables... you need a crystal ball.....

I grew my plants, Tondo, Fiorentina and Custard White, on an allotment so the toxin could have come from anywhere. Next time I grow Zucchini I shall try just one variety in case it came from one of the other varieties. Custand White is the most amazing looking zucchini - reminiscent of a space ship!!!

 I've grown them for over 30 years, both outside and in my greenhouse (with cucumbers alongside) and had very few problems(the occasional bitter one not eaten straightaway). What I have found is that many a shop bought zucchini have been bitter, but invariably these have been old (you can tell by the colour of the skin how old they are, darker green the older). I've also found out of a number bought if I keep one or two a week or so, they are often bitter, whereas those eaten earlier were all fine. I suspect they get bitter over time.