Timothy Coolong, a professor of horticulture and vegetable extension specialist in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, recently spoke with Martha Stewart about gourds and their place on your table this fall.
A gourd is a hard-shelled, non-edible fruit related to cucumbers, squashes and pumpkins. There is a wide variety of gourds. The species people are most likely to see are bottle gourds, snake gourds, apple gourds, nest egg gourds and penguin gourds.
“Many specialty pumpkins and squash that are sold as ‘fall/winter’ squash are sometimes called gourds, too,” said Coolong.
While there are many different gourds, Coolong advises against eating them.
“There are pie pumpkins that you can eat, but there are some hard-shell pumpkins that are better used exclusively as decorations in the same way a gourd would be,” said Coolong.
According to Coolong, generally when growing gourds, gardeners can treat the process like growing pumpkins or other fall squash.
“Some growers will trellis the gourds to keep them off the ground and produce cleaner, higher quality fruit as well—particularly some of the smaller gourds,” Coolong said. “On the other hand, there are some very large kettle gourds (think hundreds of pounds) that wouldn’t work on a trellis.”