Bitter zucchini: careful, poisonous!

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If zucchini tastes bitter, you should not eat the fruit in any case: The bitter taste indicates cucurbitacine, a group of bitter substances with chemically similar structure, which are extremely toxic. The fatal thing is that these bitter substances are heat resistant, so do not decompose when cooking. Immediately throw the fruit on the compost as soon as you notice even a slightly bitter taste. Here the poison is reliably decomposed and can not be transferred to other plants.

The cucurbitacines are plant-derived protective substances that have long since been bred away from today's garden varieties of zucchini. The plants suffer from heat or drought stress, yet they often form bitter substances and store them in the cells. In addition, the bitterness also increases during the fruit ripening - this is in addition to the more aromatic flavor so still a good reason to harvest zucchini as young as possible.

Purchased zucchini seeds are bitter-free

Most of the game species of the closely related zucchini, pumpkins, cucumbers and melons still contain cucurbitacins as natural protection against predators. The only garden species that produce these bitter substances in higher concentrations are the ornamental squashes - so you should not eat them in any case. If zucchini grow in the garden next to ornamental gourds, it can also lead to crossbreeding. If you then pull new plants from the seed of the harvested zucchini next year, there is a high risk that they also have the bitter substance gene. If you grow old, seed-proof zucchini and pumpkin varieties in the garden, you should therefore refrain from the cultivation of ornamental gourds. In addition, you play it safe when you buy the zucchini and pumpkin seeds every year in stores.

The consumption of cucurbitacines causes small amounts of nausea, diarrhea and upset stomach. If you ingest large amounts of it, the poisoning can even lead to death.
In 2015, such a tragic death went through the media: A 79-year-old retiree had consumed a large portion of prepared zucchini from the garden and was killed. His wife then reported that the zucchini tasted bitter and she had therefore only a small portion of it, but knew nothing of the danger of poisoning. Experts attribute bittern concentration to the extremely hot and dry weather - and warn of panic: Zucchini from their own garden could continue to be consumed, but the raw fruits should be tested for bitterness before consumption. Already a small portion rich, in order to taste the bitter substances with a functioning sense of taste.

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