Mar­row Pickle

Jane Price makes the most of an un­ex­pected gift

Air Gunner - - Country Kitchen -

I’ve never re­ally been sure why peo­ple grow mar­rows, and just as­sumed that they are the re­sult of cour­gettes not be­ing har­vested in time to be able to call them that. How­ever, if you look up the def­i­ni­tion of ‘mar­row’ in good old Google you will find that the mar­row is the ma­ture ver­sion of the im­ma­ture fruit called a cour­gette. It seems that the mar­row was the in­tended veg­etable and cour­gettes are just the baby ver­sion, har­vested early, but I’m sure all those sea­soned al­lot­menteers amongst you al­ready knew that. The baby ver­sions of any­thing are al­ways more ap­peal­ing and are usu­ally sweeter – baby car­rots, pe­tite pois, Lit­tle Gem let­tuce. The big­ger ver­sions are of­ten wood­ier, not so juicy and not so sweet, and so dif­fer­ent recipes are needed. Then there are the funny-shaped or slightly dam­aged veg­eta­bles that you don’t want to waste, but need to cut bits away to use them. Once you have fin­ished laugh­ing at them, th­ese over­large or less ap­peal­ing veg­eta­bles are per­fect to be used in pick­les and chut­neys.

I al­ways have a large col­lec­tion of empty jars in the jam cup­board – yes I have one! – and a bag or two of re­place­ment lids, for all the jams, rel­ishes and pick­les that I like to make dur­ing late sum­mer and au­tumn when I’m sud­denly awash with ap­ples, plums and damsons from the gar­den, and black­ber­ries from the lo­cal hedgerows. If you have an al­lot­ment or large fruit tree, it makes good sense to do some swaps if you have a sur­plus of some­thing and per­haps you will get some­thing un­ex­pected in re­turn – like a great big mar­row. This one came from my sis­ter-in-law’s al­lot­ment in Lin­colnshire and was pre­sented to us when they came to visit re­cently. They re­ally en­joy grow­ing all kinds of fruits and veg­eta­bles and also make lots of pre­serves and if we are lucky they will bring us some­thing they had spare.

A cou­ple of years ago, I was given a bag­ful of cour­gettes from the same sis­ter-in-law’s al­lot­ment. I didn’t quite know what to do with them so I looked up a recipe on­line for cour­gette rel­ish, which I tweaked slightly and I now make it on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, even if I have to buy the cour­gettes. For that recipe, the cour­gettes are grated which makes a finer tex­ture so is ideal for spread­ing in sand­wiches.

For the mar­row pickle the mar­row isn’t grated, but is cut into tiny chunks, along with onions and pep­pers. The pro­por­tion of cider vine­gar, sugar and veg­eta­bles doesn’t have to be ex­act, you just need to taste ev­ery­thing be­fore putting it into the jars, and ad­just the flavour for sweet­ness with more sugar, or add some chilli for a bit of bite – ideal for a packed lunch of cheese and crack­ers at the al­lot­ment!

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