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I long for a courgette/zucchini glut

Courgettes (zucchini)

I used to agree with Gilbert. Courgettes just didn’t appeal. Perhaps it was an overdose of badly cooked ratatouille back in the seventies – the new craze in the UK at the time.
“It’s the French method for vegetables.” The hostess would chortle.
Back then I was certain that the French would be enraged that this concoction could be claimed to be a cross channel influence. It was vile. Almost enough to put off a vegetarian from being vegetarian.

A similar experience forced Gilbert to ban courgettes, along with their beefier relations – The Marrow Family.
“That nasty watery mush will never darken my table again.”
And I had to agree until I started growing them myself.

The first spring that I tried growing vegetables I soon got caught up in that wild ‘Imusttrygrowingeverything’ surge. I invested in one courgette plant. The small plump ultra fresh courgettes were a revelation – they were sweeter and crisper than the commercially grown ones. They had zroom and loads of elan.  Great raw in a salad, crisped in a frying pan – I didn’t try the dreaded ratatouille but with roasted veg they were a revelation.

Later on I discovered that if they were grated they could be added to slow cooked casseroles and sauces to give them bulk and sweetness. Courgettes take on the flavour of the other ingredients and cook right down. They thicken a sauce and not even a skilled courgette hating detective would never know that they are there.

Even Gilbert has purred.
“This sauce is delicious. Tomatoey yet soft and delicious. What’s the trick? Sugar?”
His wife’s steely gaze stopped any chance of a confession.  I have given Marjorie courgettes in a plain brown wrapper loads of times in the past. 
 
Although I grow hundreds of courgettes each year I never have a glut.
“Why? How?” I hear you gasp. “I can’t give them away! They are great at first but then we tire of them.”
A well tended plant can become a bit like a miracle courgette production machine. They love water and the occasional feed. I lavish mine with both.

Let me share my secret. There is no need to cosy up to the vicar or dumkp them on doorsteps after dark. At the cottage any courgettes that are not destined for immediate use are grated and popped into bags in the freezer. There’s no need to blanch them. During the winter they are pulled out, spread over pizza bases or added to casseroles, soups and sauces. They could of course be dehydrated and stored for later. Just add them to a slow cooked meal in the slow cooker/crock pot for at least two hours.

Courgettes are a great source of folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.

Indulge your courgette plants and they will give you a harvest and if you freeze or dry them you’ll welcome them back again and again all year.


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25 Comments

  1. |Oh, janerowena’s fritters reminded me of a fantastic fritter recipe I found recently. It’s here. Great for people who don’t like courgettes, or are just tired of them, because you can’t taste them 🙂 We were generous with the curry powder, and topped them with some Geeta’s onion chutney — they were excellent.

  2. We had tons of zucchini here in Illinois in the states. Hot dry weather and that is what they seem to like the most. They always say here, you can tell which neighbors you dislike the most by how much zucchini you leave on their doorstep! Lol.. You leave it and run so they can’t give it back to you. Thanks again for the blog.

  3. PipneyJane

    We’ve had a really dismal year for courgettes – normally, I’d get four a week off one plant but this year, it’s barely two off two plants. (Athough my odds should have been better this year. Every year I plant 3 courgettes and only one survives the slug wars. This year, 2 survived.)

    My favourite uses for courgettes: courgette lasagne (make your usual tomato sauce then add two large courgettes sliced. Simmer for 10 minutes then layer up with pasta, etc); courgette cake (I use Nigella Lawson’s); quartered and roasted in the oven; large ones sliced and used instead of aubergine in moussaka (the Greeks do this); grated into a courgette frittata; grated in a rosti; and roasted in the oven with other veggies. I’ll also through them, sliced, into Chinese/Thai/Malaysian dishes and curries.

    My only recommendation is never, EVER boil them. They soak up moisture like a sponge and develop the most disgusting, soggy texture. My mother used to like them that way. I guess that’s why I hated them until I discovered ratatuille.

  4. Normandy Margaret

    I always freeze courgettes too – I chop them and open freeze on trays and then bag them up,and add them to currys and soups etc throughout the Winter.I’ll try the grated method though.
    When I can’t keep up, or if a large one has got away I give them to the hens – they love them.

  5. I was so hoping for a glut of courgettes this year. I had quite a few recipes lined up to try out but our damp (read extremely wet and miserable) summer put paid to that idea. Out of 10 plants started five made it to maturity. From those five plants I only harvested 6 or 7 courgettes. The rest fell victim to blossom end rot or slugs and the plants failed under an onslaught of powdery mildew in early August…am hoping for a better summer and better luck next year.

  6. I’ve never been too keen on courgette either, even though my wife prepares a mean ratatouille 😉

    We went to Crete to stay with a relative a couple of years ago and the local taverna served delicious ‘Zucchini Balls’ (Kolokythokeftedes if you’re up for trying to pronounce it!), we had them every day, and went through quite a few dozen courgettes trying replicate the recipe at home!

    Anyway – I’d recommend them if you’ve got a glut! There’s loads of recipes out there on the net – I’ll ask my wife to type up hers though…

  7. Glad (don’t mean that in a horrid way) to hear of others’ woes with courgettes – I get a steady supply from my one plant (tiny garden) of perhaps two to three a week which is enough for the two of us to eat them once a week without getting bored – but obviously that’s nothing like a glut. And, like others having the same problem, we’ve had little or no sunshine. Rain and nothing but rain for months on end is what it feels like!

  8. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    I don’t know.

    Over here, they’re zucchini, and I have never grown one, for the same reason you’d never tried until this year. It’s the one vegetable I just can’t warm up to. (Well, that and jicama.) But you’ve got me *almost* convinced. I’ve got until next spring to decide whether I’ll actually change my mind — always a momentous occasion!

  9. janerowena

    My very favourite this year (I have a glut in Suffolk and have had to find a new way to cook them every day for weeks in order to keep my family happy!) has been very simple fritters.

    Grate a large courgette, put in a bowl and add salt. Leave for an hour, add flour to the watery mixture. About two tablespoonfuls I should think, to make a looseish batter. Add any herbs or spices you fancy, then fry in about an inch of oil, turning after about a minute. Just delicious, and they can take on any taste, as mentioned above, so can be mediterranean with herbs, or good onion bhaji substitutes – anthing.

  10. Ours are also feeble this year. One of my favourite ways is as a “salad”. Cut into slices, lightly boiled or steamed, cooled (or even tepid) and dressed with very good quality olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon. (Please note: this does not work with supermarket ones – they have to be freshly picked.)

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