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When to harvest Cucuzza squash (aka: New Guinea Bean or Bottle Gourd or Lauki or Calabash)

Generally, I now prefer to treat Cucuzza as the Indians treat it. There it is referred to as Bottle Gourd or Lauki .

That means to not let it get too big around the middle so that it doesn't seed up inside. It will get pithy with age -- when the texture you want is a firm sponginess.

Best to harvest the gourds early on rather than allow them to enlarge too much on the vine. Harvest when they are still green and the skin hasn't started to yellow or harden -- in effect, `turn into a pumpkin. Slight thin hairs along the skin is good.

Even if a tad 'green' they will dry and pulp up after harvest if left a few days on the bench.

Even when young, the gourd may still be over a metre long...and ready for harvest.

Currently, I peel it, dice it up and drop it into soups or curry sauces. In Indian cuisine there is a HUGE menu on offer. In fact, it is extraordinarily versatile and will fit into many different cuisines. Primarily celebrated in India, Italy, the Philippines and West Africa.

While Lauki will take up the flavour of the sauce, curry, gravy or soup it is cooked it -- I love the way it holds onto its texture without fully collapsing into mush. It generates 'fill' without dissipation.

Needless to say, there is a very big meal to be had from a single gourd. I keep one on the kitchen bench and hack into it as required. The cut end may crust up, but each time you want to slice some more just cut and disguard that end bit.

A metre of vegetable isn't something that will fit into your fridge. You could hack it up, but then you create wounds that can harm the flesh. I store my harvest outside the fridge initially, and it will, nonetheless, keep for up to a week even in the Brisbane Summer.

When prepping for a meal, always start cutting from the narrow end as that's the best flavour and texture. The other end which is enlarged and may be bulbous isn't worth slicing but may warrant stuffing and baking.

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Comment by Dave Riley on January 26, 2021 at 22:27

The Indians love mangoes ...and Lauki. The Times of India may not be your nutritional go-to, but the journal sure celebrates Lauki.

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