The Fruit with a Thousand Names

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Small Cucuzzi Fruit on vineThis week I was hoping to provide you with a video tour of the gardens. But as I type this it’s raining… and has been for almost an entire day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! I’m grateful for the cool weather and rain. Instead of a video tour, I thought I’d share with you about our Cucuzzi plant.

[Your what?!]

Cucuzzi plant. You know – Zucchetta. Serpent of Sicily. Longissima. Calabash. Suzza Melon. Tasmania Bean. Indian Squash. This edible gourd with a thousand names has been grown in the Mediterranean for at least two thousand years and is popular in Southern Italy. Though it tastes like summer squash, its white flowers indicate that it’s technically a gourd. Cucuzzi fruit are light green, have a smooth skin and can grow to be larger than 3 feet long! Of course, once they get to that length, they’re less tasty than when they’re smaller [or so I’ve read]. It’s recommended that you harvest them somewhere around twelve inches.

This past spring when I was looking for hard squash seeds, the Cucuzzi immediately caught my attention. When mature they create large J-shaped edible gourds – what’s not to like about that? After planting the seeds I read online that you have to pollinate them by hand. Bummer. I almost regretted buying them. But just a few days later I saw that I had a baby cucuzzi fruit growing – yay! (So much for hand-pollinating, eh?) Within a week there were a couple dozen of them. And just today I was admiring all the fruit – and wondering about that first one I’d seen a week or more ago – when I found this beauty.

Hand next to cucuzzi fruit on vine

Yup. That’s a cucuzzi fruit. She’s about sixteen inches long. A little bigger than the recommended eating size, but I can’t wait to find out how they taste! Apparently they’re prepared just like zucchini and can be enjoyed baked, fried, sautéed or stuffed. The leaves and the tips of the vines are also edible. (Tips of the vines have an official name but I can’t find it now.) Haven’t made plans to try those yet, but we’ll get there.

Owen thinks it could also make a pretty good baseball bat!

Little boy holding a large edible cucuzzi gourd

Not only does the fruit seem promising, but the plant is beautiful. I love the way it looks growing up our tepee trellis made of fallen pine branches. In the evening its white flowers open up and are absolutely beautiful! And these pictures just don’t do justice to show their aggressive growth! The trellis is home to three plants, each with two square feet of raised bed garden space. Well… I gave them 2 square feet each. They’ve taken quite a bit of aisle space and a square foot or two from the bean bed next door. Apparently the vines can grow to nearly 25 feet long. They make beautiful ground cover and I’m thinking of putting some similar tepee trellises on the east side of the house as edible landscaping next year.

 

By Delivery Week #13, there should be plenty to go around! Farm Members – look for some cucuzzi (you know – zucchetta, serpent of Sicily, longissima, calabash, suzza melon, Tasmania bean, Indian squash or whatever) and recipes in your near future!

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