Wow the crowd by knowing your gourds

All of these gourds are edible, but some lend themselves to being a decoration first. Gourds are very attractive and beautiful when grouped together.  Acorn and Butternut Squash, Pumpkin, Spaghetti Squash and Delicata Squash are the best known.  I’ve seen some of the more unusual gourds below but didn’t know what they were called or how they tasted.

The Carnival Squash is an orange and green speckled winter squash. It is a cross between the Acorn Squash and the Sweet Dumpling Squash. It has a nutty sweet flavor and is delicious roasted with some butter and a little brown sugar.

 

gourds-carnival-squash2

The Mirliton (known as a Chayote in Latin American cuisine) is a wrinkly, pale green gourd that hails from the Caribbean and Mexico.  Its texture is like an apple’s but it tastes more like a cucumber.   They can be used uncooked in salads, salsas and dips. Cooked, they can be split in half and filled with shrimp or ham.. Its seeds and skin are edible.

gourds-mirlitonA Cucuzza is an Italian gourd and is known for its length. It can grow from fifteen inches to three feet in length and three inches in diameter.  It tastes like a zucchini and is usually cooked.  It plays nicely with tomatoes, garlic, eggplants, mint, basil and fennel.  When it’s young it can be sliced and sautéed, or grilled, fried or pickled.  When it’s more mature it can be cooked like a winter squash and split, stuffed and baked, or slow roasted.

gourds-cucuzza2A Cinderella Pumpkin is a French heirloom.  It got its name because it resembles the pumpkin that Cinderella’s fairy godmother turned into a carriage.  It is recorded as the pumpkin variety that the Pilgrims grew and served at the second Thanksgiving dinner. In addition to being decorative, Cinderella Pumpkins taste good and can be used in pies and any winter squash recipe. It’s also fun to bake, hollow out and use as a tureen for chili or soup.

gourds-cindarella-pumpkin2The Crookneck is a giant butternut squash with a long neck.  The neck is seedless so cooks prefer to use that part for cooking.  It’s delicious roasted but also adds drama to a gourd decoration.

gourds-crookneckSweet Dumpling is a great looking gourd.  It is small, about 12 to 16 oz, and perfect to split, stuff and roast.  It has very sweet, juicy pale orange flesh. The skin is edible.

gourds-sweet-dumplingThe Fairy Tale Pumpkin is similar in shape to the Cinderella Pumpkin, but with a deep mahogany brown color and deeper ribs. It is also a French heirloom.  It grows to between 12” – 18” and its flesh is a deep orange.  It is best used for baking.

gourds-fairy-tale-pumpkin2Crown of Thorns gourds are about 4” wide with spikes.  They are neat looking and would be great in a gourd centerpiece.  They come in many colors from cream to green.  The younger the gourd the better eating it is.  They are cooked like zucchini and squash.

gourds-crown-of-thorns2

Fall is a great time to cook with gourds. We like to decorate with them too. Here are some ideas and resources that when bringing the season indoors;

Dressing Up Your Fall/Winter Table with Rattan, Feathers, Acorns and Pumpkins