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Courgettes are more than 95% water, and so offer only a modest amount of nutrients. The high water content, however, means that they are very low in calories. In addition, they are inexpensive and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Courgettes can grow quite large, but when allowed to do so, they have coarse, stringy flesh and large seeds. They taste best when small to medium sized, not more than 7" long. Choose courgettes that are also firm and fairly heavy for their size; otherwise, they may be dry and cottony within. Farmers' markets and greengrocers sometimes offer baby courgettes just 1" to 2" long; these are particularly tender and sweet, and the flowers are a real delicacy.

The skin of courgettes is thin and fragile, delicate enough to puncture with a fingernail. Unfortunately, some shoppers do just this, they prick the skin to test for tenderness, leaving the vegetable susceptible to decay. Look for courgettes with sound, glossy exteriors; avoid those with skins showing nicks, pits, bruises, or soft spots. They should be plump (not shrivelled), the stem ends fresh and green. Colour should be uniform and bright.

Place courgettes in perforated plastic bags and store in the refrigerator . They should keep for up to a week.

Wash them well and trim the ends. Courgettes need not be peeled or seeded unless it is oversized and has a thick skin or large seeds.


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