Saturday, December 15, 2012

Calabash / Bottle Gourd

 A Burmese Australian friend has introduced me to the Calabash or Bottle Gourd as a food plant. I have had a couple of carved ones for years and always thought it was just an ornamental plant. One the carved ones pictured above has been decorated with oak leaves, acorns and snowflakes so the carver may be of English origin.
Bottle gourd, Lagenaria siceraria
The plant is a very rampant summer vine of tropical and probably African origin. It has that hot climate habit of producing large tissue paper like flowers which bloom at night to attract moths and bats. Hand pollination is recommended to ensure a good crop as the night life pollinators are not always active or in large numbers. During the day the flowers appear brown and wilted.
 The fruit is best used when young, in ways as you would with squash or zucchini. The Burmese deep fry pieces to make the snack boo-thee kyaw. In Japan, ribbon like strips of the flesh (yuugao) are dried and used as an edible tie for sushi. In fact most Asian countries use it as a cooked vegetable in curries, soups and stir fried.
Burmese snack boo-thee kyaw

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