This year, for the first time ever I’ve had some truly awful vegetables, whilst they were as fresh as a daisy, just picked from the plants and they looked absolutely perfect, the taste was absolutely vile. The first time it happened was when I attempted a courgette soup. Followed the recipe to the letter, used some potatoes from the allotment and yet on the first taste it was truly revolting. It wasn’t a ‘too much salt revolting’ but a tastes like chemicals revolting – took an entire glass of wine to banish the taste!
Now I know one of the potatoes had a green bit on it, so I assumed that, despite removing it, this was the cause of the problem and just put it down to experience. Then, a few weeks later, I had a message from my mother to say that the runner beans I had given her were delicious, but the courgette tasted foul! Well that had me thinking and after doing a bit of research I found that the poor plants had been stressed!!
Apparently, if exposed to extremes of temperatures, drought or uneven watering then courgettes and cucumbers can become stressed and the chemicals in the plants, called cucurbitacins, become concentrated and give the fruits that disgusting taste – who knew!! Well not me, that’s for sure.
Now of course we have the problem that we don’t know from which plant the affected courgettes have come, which makes it a bit of a nightmare when you have given them to friends, let alone when you want to use them. I have now taken to tasting them all raw before attempting to use them in any dishes or relishes, if I give them away then I do so with a warning to do the same!!
Sadly the bad fruits are not obviously different from the good!
As if it wasn’t bad enough that we can’t trust the courgettes from the allotment yesterday we discovered the same was true of the cucumbers from the greenhouse. We harvested two small cucumbers, same size, same part of the greenhouse, in fact they looked identical. Sadly, the first one we sliced for salad was, like the courgettes, revolting! My husband almost binned the second one, but we risked it, tried a wee slice and bingo, beautiful home grown cucumber which tasted perfect!
I know that we have had some extremely hot days this year, but the same is true of previous years, and yet this is the first time ever we have had such problems, I do wonder whether this problem is more rife this year than previous years, or whether we have just been unlucky?