Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Angle gourds: an impressive cucumber-like fruit for Florida

Almost 10 years ago I was given a packet of "loofah" seeds. I planted them and ended up with heavily-ridged loofahs that were almost completely impossible to clean for use as sponges/scrubbers.

The netting was good inside... but getting the skins off? No process worked. I tried boiling water, letting them rot, drying, waiting until they were dry on the vine, picking them early, scraping with a knife... nothing worked.

I did some more research and discovered that my "loofahs" were actually "angle gourds."

This is an easy mistake. Both are loofahs... but only one is good for sponge-making.

I thought I had Luffa aegyptiaca... whereas I had Luffa acutangula.

After growing them once in Tennessee and once in Florida, I gave up.

The thing is, angle gourds don't give up as easy as I do. I threw some old ones in the compost pile in my food forest... and lookie here:

They're growing themselves!

Since the plant is so very persistent despite the heat and humidity, I decided to try the young fruits and see if they were tasty. The smell has put me off in the past: they have this rank green odor when the fruit and leaves are broken - yet to my surprise, the cooked young fruit are delicious and sweet... though they really do look strange.

They remind me of the Hindenburg.

The flavor: imagine the best of a zucchini mixed with a cucumber. Very good!

They're really good sauteed, incidentally.

Why yes, that is bacon grease. And the beans? These guys.
Since I haven't done well with either zucchini or cucumbers during Florida's summers, I think angle gourds will be filling a larger role in my future gardening plans. Since I've had them self-seed more than once, it may just be that I can scatter the seeds here and there and let them find their own way in the food forest. That's what they're doing this year, so why not?

Now that I've tasted them and found them delicious, angle gourds now get the green light to ramble as far as they'd like.

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At September 23, 2014 at 6:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other day I took an angle gourd and pickled it in fermented bread and butter pickle brine. The kids and I think they're tasty.

-Mrs. Survival Gardener/Rachel The Good

At September 23, 2014 at 7:50 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

It WAS good!

At September 24, 2014 at 12:19 AM , Anonymous Andi said...

Oh wow!!!! One of the farmers at my farmers market grows these! She's from French Guyana and grows and sells all kinds of crazy stuff. You have emboldened me, sir. Now I have to buy one from her and try and it. Have you tried bottle gourd yet? It's also called lauki- Lagenaria siceraria. It also grows like crazy and tastes like a mild zucchini.

At September 24, 2014 at 12:23 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

Do it!

I've tried growing birdhouse gourds a few times - I think they're the same species. I wanted them for the dried gourds but they've invariably rotted on me thus far. Never tried the green ones... now there's a good idea.


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