The Christmas issue

Our December issue is out now, featuring Paul Carmichael's recipes for a Caribbean Christmas, silly season cocktails and more.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 28th December, 2016 for your chance to win a share of $50,000!

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Top 35 recipes of 2016

2016 was all about slow-roasting, fresh pasta and comfort food. These are the recipes you clicked on most this year, counting back to number one.

Christmas vegetarian recipes

The versatility of vegetarian dishes means they can be served alongside meat and seafood, or enjoyed simply as they are. With Christmas just around the corner, we’ve put together some of our favourite vegetarian recipes to appease both herbivores and carnivores alike.

Decadent chocolate dessert recipes for Christmas

13 of our most decadent chocolate recipes to indulge guests with this Christmas.

Best travel destinations in 2017

We're thinking big for travelling in 2017 - and so should you. Will we see you sunrise at Java's 9th-century Borobudur Buddhist temple, across the table at Reykjavik's newest restaurants or swimming side-by-side with humpback whales off Western Australia's coast?

Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

What the GT team is cooking on Christmas Day

We don't do things by halves in the Gourmet office. These are the recipes we'll be cooking on the big day.

Summer feta recipes

Whether in a fresh salad or seasonal seafood dish, feta's creamy tang can be used to add interest to a variety of summer dishes.

Christmas ham recipes

The centrepiece of any Christmas feast, hams can be glazed with many ingredients. Here are our favourite combinations.

How to grow zucchini

The French say courgettes, we say zucchini - whatever you call the versatile squash, now is its time to shine in the sun, writes Mat Pember.

October marks the start of spring proper, as we gardeners say, when plants really start to flourish and all vegetable growers greet it like the return of the messiah. Possibly the hardest thing about this time of year is not going overboard in terms of what to grow. While there's a smorgasbord of varieties to choose from, space limitations can narrow the options, but zucchini is one variety that passes muster for us. While they're somewhat space-greedy, one healthy bush will satisfy the demands of the most voracious zucchini-eater.

To grow zucchini, position them in an A-grade space that receives full sun and offers protection from the wind. As a large plant, it catches even moderate gusts, which can cause damage at the root zone.

In the absence of protection it requires staking. Prepare the soil with plenty of compost and chook manure before planting and ensure it's free draining.

When planting, space each plant 40 to 50 centimetres apart, then, if the zucchini take, thin them out to 80 to 100 centimetres. One healthy plant will produce more and better fruit than two in competition, so less really is more.

We like to pop our seedlings in small heaped piles of compost - around 20 centimetres in diameter and five centimetres high; the elevation allows good drainage while the compost provides the young plant with an extra boost of nitrogen that helps promote early plant growth.

Water them daily in the morning for the first few weeks and then three to four times a week as the plant begins to mature. If you give the plants an extra water on very hot, sunny days, avoid wetting the foliage as it can easily burn. If you're growing zucchini in pots, pay attention to what your plants are saying. If they're looking lifeless, you can be sure they're thirsty.

After four to six weeks, you'll notice flowers developing, signalling the start of the business end. This time of year is also usually when bees get busy, hopefully in a frenzy pollinating your flowers, but that's not always the case. Sometimes zucchini begin to form, but then shrivel up - a sign of poor pollination - so good old-fashioned hand pollination may be required. Hold no reservations about this task; it may be the only way to ensure zucchini develop as nature intended.

Once the fruit begins to form properly, zucchini can swell at a seemingly uncontrollable rate. In our experience, it's not uncommon to part with a normal-sized fruit on a Friday and come Sunday discover it has turned into a monster marrow.

The general rule of thumb is to pick early to ensure they're tender and juicy, rather than dry and hollow. When harvesting, use a small sharp knife or secateurs, and be careful when handling the plant; the bush has moderately annoying spikes all over, which become less moderate and more annoying around the neck - where you need to pick the fruit. When harvesting zucchini flowers for cooking, pick only male flowers, leaving one male per female flower to ensure pollination (see below for how to identify male and female flowers).

Picking zucchini regularly encourages the rest to develop, so avoid any long absences or laziness while the plant is producing. Each plant will offer up a glut of zucchini - for around two to three months - so gather some recipes and put them to good use.

As the weather cools down again, the annual bush will look like death. At this point let the last zucchini contribute to the new season's first ratatouille, then thank the plant for all its hard work before removing it and bidding it farewell.

One-minute skills: hand pollination
This tip is an opportunity to explain the birds and the bees. But some vegetables - pumpkin, zucchini and squash in particular - leave the birds and bees suitably unimpressed and have trouble attracting the right kind of attention, so they sometimes need a helping hand. Without pollination, there will be no fruit, and that's where the gardener comes in.

1 First you need to identify the male and female flowers on the plant. The male is connected to the plant by a long, thin stem, whereas the female has a miniature fruit growing in between the flower and the plant.

2 There are always plenty of male flowers to choose from and they're always up for hand-pollinating. The female, however, presents only windows of opportunity and are far fewer in numbers. But when her flower is opening, it's all on.

3 To hand-pollinate, simply break off a male flower, peel back the petals to reveal the stamen and rub it over the stigma of the female flower. Remember, you can't hand-pollinate a flower too much, so don't hold back.

What to plant
Cool/mountainous
Artichoke seedling
Asparagus seedling
Basil propagate
Beans seed
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum propagate
Carrot seed
Celery seedling
Chilli propagate
Coriander seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant propagate
Fennel seedling
Herbs (all except basil) seedling
Kale seedling
Lettuce seedling
Peas seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seedling
Sweet corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Strawberry seedling
Zucchini seedling

Sub tropical
Artichoke seedling
Asparagus seedling
Basil seedling
Beans seed
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Carrot seed
Celery seedling
Chilli seedling
Coriander seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs (all except basil) seedling
Kale seedling
Lettuce seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Peas seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Strawberry seedling
Squash seedling
Sweet corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Zucchini seedling

Tropical
Basil seedling
Beans seedling
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Carrot seed
Capsicum seedling
Celery seedling
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs (all) seedling
Lettuce seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seedling
Strawberry seedling
Sweet Corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Zucchini seedling

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
On the Pass with Abla Amad
09.12.2016
Explainer: wild scampi caviar
30.11.2016
GT's Christmas hamper
29.11.2016
David Thompson's favourite hot sauce
28.11.2016
Our 2016 Christmas issue is out now
28.11.2016
Bruce Pascoe’s crowd-funded Indigenous agriculture project
27.11.2016
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
The GT x STILY
Christmas Boutique is now open

The smallgoods, homewares, art and more from the pages of GT are now all under one roof, ready to take their place under the tree.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

You might also like...

Dee Nolan and Nolans Road

Nolans Road oil is acclaimed by top chefs and forms the life...

How to grow your own carrots

In the first outing of our new gardening column, Mat Pember ...

How to grow your own beetroot

Beetroot: it’s an agreeable grower, cures hangovers and boos...

How to plant cucumbers

Spring planting ups the anticipation of warmer weather, so s...

How to grow your own carrots

In the first outing of our new gardening column, Mat Pember ...

How to grow your own beetroot

Beetroot: it’s an agreeable grower, cures hangovers and boos...

How to plant cucumbers

Spring planting ups the anticipation of warmer weather, so s...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×