Is Squash a Gourd? Kitchen Garden facts


Is squash a gourd? – What do you think? Technically both Squash and gourd belong to the same Cucurbitaceae family. These are the most common cucurbits available worldwide. The cucurbits are one of the oldest vegetable groups.  Squash and gourd cultivation dates back to old mesoamerican times.

Cucurbitaceae is a family of flowering vines with nearly 100 genera and 1000 species. It is one of the largest vegetable families that contains Cucumber, melons, gourds, pumpkin, and all the squash.

Is squash a gourd
Is squash a gourd? Everything To Know

Check out my previous post: 8 Common Edible Cactus Varieties Worldwide

What is considered gourds?

The classification of gourd in the Cucurbitaceae suggests the fruit members with a hard shell and dense messy core.  Generally, gourds are considered inedible. Though this is not true to the facts.

Maybe the hard-to-cut and cook fruits and their slightly bitter taste led to this classification. Otherwise, You can cook or eat gourds just like any other vegetable. Just make sure fruits are green soft and easy to cut. Generally, most gourds become hard inedible when ripe. Therefore it can be a major parameter for identifying a gourd.

Gourds differ in shape, size, appearance, texture, and taste. So we can categorize the whole group as ‘inedible squash’. This is more like an old stereotype of the fact that anything hard to cook is not good to eat.

It is actually a matter of your culinary skills to prepare and cook a gourd. In South Asian Countries like India, several gourd varieties are popular local delicacies. You can cook them while the fruits are green and soft.

Ancient records suggest much different use of gourds. Such as making Containers and water bottles. In the Indian Subcontinent, some gourds are used to prepare musical instruments. The unique dense structure of gourds can survive natural decomposition for several months. That’s why dry gourd mess is a natural loofa for healthy skin.

Bottle gourd, snake gourd, and ridge gourd are common edible varieties of the gourd.

What is a Squash?

Squash is an Old English derivation of the Native American Word-“askutasquash“. It simply means- Vegetables Consumed While green. It relates to the modern classification of Summer squash.

Most of which is consumed while they are green and not fully ripe. Summer squash becomes hard and fibrous when fully ripe.

According to its botanical classification- A squash is a fruit of the Cucurbitaceae family with a soft fleshy core.

You can distinguish squash into two categories according to the cultivars. They usually differ in their growth rate and time of plantation. These are-

  1. Summer Squash
  2. Winter Squash

Summer squash has soft skin and is prepared while green. Most of the summer squash varieties like yellow squash or butter squash have a fast growth rate. They take around 45-60 days to mature and start fruiting. You can store them for not more than 2 weeks. Check out the summer squash seeds on Amazon.

Winter squash is another type of squash. As the name suggests they are winter cultivar and takes a longer duration to mature. It can take more than 100 days for a pumpkin plant to fruit. The physical structure is quite different. These squash have a hard shell and softcore with lots of seed. They are consumed when fully ripe. You can store winter squash for a long duration, even for months. Buy Pumpkin Seeds on Amazon.

More often the Terms Squash and gourds tangle with each other. Both squash and gourds are indeed different. But the general nomenclature differs from country to different religions. Both of them are good to eat.

So, You can think of Squash as a tasty Cucurbit fruit to cook and eat. It is a well-known vegetable in the modern culinary world.

Pumpkin and Zucchini are the most common squash varieties. Believe me, it’s just 2 among the 100s available to eat.

Zucchini

Is a pumpkin a gourd or squash?

Pumpkin is a squash. Yes, we indeed identify this particular winter squash with its common name Pumpkin. The word pumpkin has no botanical definition.

Pumpkin belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. The fruit structure of pumpkin relates to the classification of squash. It has a hard shell cover and a soft fleshy edible core.

You can cook and eat a green baby pumpkin. It is quite delicious and really easy to prepare. Only the flesh and seeds of a mature pumpkin are good to eat. So it can be classified as a squash instead of a gourd.

Haloween Pumpkin (Cucurbita Pepo) is a popular ornamental variety of squash. We grow these for decoration purposes and especially for giant fruit competitions. Haloween is always incomplete without a Hallo pumpkin Lamp.

Fun fact- Dave Stelts of Leetonia, Ohio grow the largest recorded Pumpkin fruit in 2000. It was 1140 pounds or 517 kilograms heavy. You can make a Halloween playhouse with this giant pumpkin.

Also read: How to get rid of Red Ants in Garden?

Is butter squash a gourd?

Nope, as the name suggests- Butter squash is a fleshy squash. It is a very popular vegetable and cultivated worldwide.

Butter squash

The skin and soft flesh is the major distinction for squash. This is how we can differentiate a butter squash from any gourd. It is late summer to fall squash variety and can be harvest throughout fall.

Sometimes taste can make the difference. Mostly Squash is sweeter than any gourd. Still, it is not the correct parameter for their distinction. Some gourds can easily cheat the taste parameter.

Butter squash has a soft buttery orange core. It contains several flat seeds. You have to remove the skin and cook the flesh to eat it. you can also eat the seeds or maybe collect a few of them for next season’s growth.

We use butter squash to prepare soups, stews, and curry. You can choose from various butter squash varieties available in the market.

What is not a gourd?

All the members of the Cucurbitaceae family that have soft fleshy core is not gourd. In simple words, any fruity structure in the cucurbit family without a dense messy fibrous core is not a gourd.

Generally, most gourds have a blunt taste. Sometimes they taste a little bitter. This is an identifiable difference, at least for general consideration. A little sweeter taste suggests the fruit is not gourd.

Pumpkin, watermelon, cucumber, and zucchini all belong to the Cucurbitaceae family. But none of them are gourds.

Are Gourds and Squash the same thing?

No definitely not. Gourds and squash are not the same. They belong to the Cucurbitaceae family but they have different physical structures and tastes.

Most importantly the growth pattern differs among gourds and squash.

Check out: Is Sugarcane a fruit or a Vegetable?

What is the difference between a gourd and a squash?

Cucurbitaceae is a flowering vine family. Most of its members have yellow or white flowers in the vine growing adjacent to the ground.

Most of the fruits in this family have a fleshy structure with a softcore. The nutritional value is not very relevant in this case. As there are 100s of varieties in this family. Trust me I am only talking about the popular cultivars.

So differences are inevitable. There is 7 major categorization in the Cucurbitaceae family. These classifications are based on several factors that create physical differences.

  • Native environment
  • Human intervention
  • Temperature and soil type
  • Finally, the user makes a difference.

The common difference between Squash and gourds are-

  1. Squash is widely accepted as edible cucurbit fruit but gourds are not. Generally, the term gourd refers to ‘inedible squash’.
  2. Squash has a soft fleshy core like any fruit. But most gourds have a dense fibrous core. Though this is not always true but can be considered.
  3. The vines of gourds are hung by support for fruit growth. whereas most of the squash are ground trailing vines. They are generally not supported for vertical growth.
  4. Gourds can only be consumed while green and immature. Whereas different squash can be cooked even green or fully ripe. You can only cook a green baby gourd but a pumpkin can be used anyway.

Can you eat a gourd?

Yes, definitely you can cook and eat a gourd. It only matters about your culinary skill. Gourds are indeed hard to cut and cook. But with proper knowledge and little effort, you can do this.

A gourd should be harvested before maturing. A mature gourd fruit is of no culinary use. It becomes hard chewy and fibrous. You cannot cook it after maturing.

A green soft baby gourd is the best selection for stews and curry. You can either boil it for 15-20 minutes or microwave it for an hour or so. Use some spices and of course chilies to add flavor to your gourd recipe.

What is your opinion after all these discussions-Is squash a gourd? Maybe you agree, maybe not. Write your thoughts and opinions in the cement section.

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Sukant

Hi, My name is Sukant. I am an I.T professional. Gardening for me is not only a hobby, its a way of living life with nature. Due to my Family background as Commercial Farmers for more than 3 generations: I personally feel attached to the green. I am not an expert, I'm here just to share my 25 years of experience in gardening. Believe me Its always Refreshing.

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