The courgette, a Mediterranean vegetable with strong roots in the province
The courgette or zucchini is one of the most produced vegetables in El Ejido, Almería. It belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes 850 species of plants, mostly herbaceous, creeping or climbing.The origin of the courgette is unknown. Some say it comes from South Asia or Central America. What is known Is that it has been grown in all warm regions of the earth for centuries. In fact, there is evidence that this vegetable was consumed by the Egyptians and later by the Greeks and Romans. However, it was the Arabs who extended its cultivation to the Mediterranean region, especially In Almeria, where it became a commonly consumed food in the Middle Ages. At present, it’s cultivation is widespread in all countries of the Mediterranean as well as in Holland, Germany, England and North America.
The courgette has an elongated shape, but can also be spherical. In terms of size and weight, the perfect size is between eight to fourteen inches, but can reach forty, weighing around 200 or 300 grams. In terms of color, this is variable. It may be yellow, light green, dark green or even black. Some varieties have grey spots, but what does not change is the white colour of its flesh. Its flavor is slightly bitter but with a little sweetness, that makes it an almost perfect food to accompany any meal at any time of year.
Small fruits, which are still in flower, are marketed as “zucchini flower” and are considered a delicacy in Italy and Greece. The flower can be eaten fried or stuffed. It should be noted that the courgette is a summer vegetable, but is now available throughout the year. It is normally harvested early, without having reached it’s final size.
How to choose and store
When selecting the best courgettes various different factors are taken into consideration. We only select fruits that are firm to the touch, compact, small or medium in size, without surface blemishes or being too heavy for their size. It is also advisable to reject large courgettes because they often have too many seeds and less tender flesh. The courgette can be stored in the refrigerator between 8º and 10º Celsius and will remain in a good condition for about two weeks. Furthermore, although courgettes belong to the same family as pumpkins they have their Own nutritional properties.