Bottle Gourd

Description
Bottle gourd, also known as white gourd or Lauki, is a vegetable which is a member of the cucumber or Cucurbitaceae family. It is also an aggressive climbing vine. It has long elastic tentacles, to give it a firm grip on the host. It can climb on shrubs, bushes, fences or even into old, dilapidated houses. It is one of the oldest vegetables known to man. Research shows that it has its origin in Africa. Though it dates back to pre-historic times, it is still not very popular in the Western world. However, it is a very common vegetable in the East, especially in countries like India and Sri Lanka. The reason behind this may be that it doesn’t suit the cuisine in the West, and also, it grows well in a tropical climate with humid weather. Such conditions are rare in the West. It is also grown in many other tropical countries. It has got many medicinal properties that give it a high value in ayurveda and other traditional health beliefs.

The fruit of this plant is generally harvested before it ripens, and is still quite young. The fruits may be of two types broadly – the rounded fruits, which are known as Calabash gourd, and the more common long pointed and slender ones which are known as bottle gourds. Both are used in numerous recipes, and have a lot of medicinal values.

Buying Tips
Attracted by the likes of it? Want to go to the grocers to get this vegetable and make tasty appetizing recipes? But how do you know that the vegetable you are buying is fresh and healthy for your family? Here are some tips for you:

When you pick up a bottle gourd, see if the vegetable is solid and firm, and not those wilting and water soaked types. Try to find those with the rounded edges, and make sure they do not have any dark spots or stains on it. These indicate decay, which means that it is not fresh. Press the skin of the bottle gourd gently, and make sure that the skin is not too soft. Try to go for the smooth skinned ones, with no cuts on them.

Culinary Usage
Bottle gourd can be prepared for your tasty recipes, in a number of ways, depending upon your likes and dislikes. Though the dislike is hardly an option here! Some of the common and unique culinary usages of bottle gourd are:

  1. Bottle gourd can be cooked very easily, and doesn’t take a whole lot of time. Thus, it can be used in various forms – like chopped bottle gourd or sliced or grated bottle gourd.
  2. Chopped bottle gourd is usually used while making curries or adding to other preparations. You can cut it into small pieces, or larger chunks, depending upon your requirements.
  3. Grated bottle gourd is often used in making grilled sandwiches or in toppings or dips or chutneys. They may also be used for making koftas or dumplings. Sliced bottle gourd is very common in China, where it is stir fried and used commonly as a snack. They can also be added to soups. In Japan, the sliced bottle gourd is used to make a very relishing alternative to sushi, which is very common there. They dry the sliced vegetable, and marinate it. It can then be had with cream sauce or dips.
  4. In India, it is widely used to make curries which are generally had along with dal or sambhar. It is also used to make vegetable preparations, along with potatoes.
  5. The seeds are also edible, and are used in many parts of Central America to make a drink called Horchata, along with rice and other spices.
  6. The seeds are also sold as sweets sometimes, after coating them with sugar. Sometimes they are consumed as juice, especially for old people.

Storage
After you have carefully chosen the bottle gourd from the market, now you want to store it and have it after a few days. How should you proceed? Well, to keep it as fresh as possible and healthy, wrap it in a plastic bag, or else just put it into an air tight container. If you have chopped bottle gourd, then put it into a glass or steel container. Then put this into the refrigerator, preferably in the vegetable drawer. Or the freeze box However, always keep in mind, that the longer you keep it in the fridge, the more prone it is to lose its freshness.

Medicinal Values
Being one of the oldest vegetables known to man till date, lauki or bitter gourd has a lot of applications in ayurveda and other traditional medicinal practices. Apart from that, it also has many vital nutrients and vitamins. Some of its medicinal uses are:

  1. It has high water content, and is low in fats and calories. Thus, it may be consumed by people who are slimming, and obese patients.
  2. Because of the large amount of fiber present in it, it also helps in the smooth working of the body and cleans the alimentary canal.
  3. It has a wonderful cooling effect on body, primarily due to its laxative properties.
  4. Bottle gourd is widely used for curing any kidney or urinary disorders. Its detoxifying property cleans the body, and also relieves and inflammations in the urinary passage. It is often consumed along with lime juice.
  5. Ayurveda claims that consumption of bottle gourd juice helps in stopping the greying of hair, and also helps in curing sleeplessness at night. It should be consumed daily in the morning. The juice itself is very cool and refreshing, and helps you chill out in the summers. The juice also helps to cure any stomach disorders, or indigestion.
  6. It also helps in curing heart diseases and liver problems.

Where to Buy Bottle Gourd in USA
Bottle gourd is found in the backyard of many houses in USA. But it is most widely cultivated as a crop, mainly in Southern USA, like Texas. Bottle gourd production is also high in Mexico.

Nutritional and Dietary Information
Bottle gourd has amazingly high nutrition content. About 100 g of this vegetable contains:

95 g of moisture (that is almost 95% water content)

3.5 g carbohydrate

Energy value of 63 KJ

16 mg calcium, 14 mg Phosphorous and 11 mg Vitamin C.

It also has got small quantities of Vitamin A, fat, proteins, and Vitamin B1 and B2, along with other minerals like iron and manganese.

Thus, as you see from all the above information, this is a very useful vegetable, and gives you a complete diet. It also helps you fight many diseases.

Nutrition Facts
Servings Size 1/2 cup (3 oz)
Calories from Fat 0.9
Calories 9
Total Fat 8.9%
Total Carbohydrate 79.2%
Protein 11.9%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because it has not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

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