It happens to us all, we go away on holiday, forget to pick a courgette or discover a hidden monster of a marrow under a forest of leaves, that’s not to say many of us grow marrows on purpose. We fall into the first category, preferring a nice courgette or zucchini over a hefty marrow. We try to avoid having a marrow monster on our hands, but sometimes you just can’t avoid the odd marrow. Of course that’s not to mention those ‘gifted’ to you. We’re a generous bunch us allotmenteers, and I bet a fair few of use have been offered a marrow from a plot neighbour at some time or other, offered with look of marrow induced panic in their eyes (please take the marrow PLEASE!). And so that’s what we did accepting a marrow from Con, one of the loveliest, gentlest of the old-timer allotment holders at our site, you just can’t say no to Con, he’s such a quiet man and it must have taken a lot to think of us and offer up one of his marrows. It was delicious, we made a lovely stuffed marrow with wild rice and made the mistake of telling someone down the plots. Since then we keep finding flipping marrows left for us on our shed step!
Now there’s only so much marrow you can take before you’re all marrowed out. So what can you do when you are suddenly gifted with an unexpected marrow? Well chutney or a pickle is a classic option, but what if you’ve not got much in at home? Well this marrow chutney recipe is a good option as it doesn’t involve any spice bags or Green tomatoes and the like. Made using ingredients you may well have in your cupboards any way.
My unexpected marrow & ale chutney recipe
1kg of chopped, deseeded and peeled marrow
500g apples peeled and chopped
500g onions peeled and diced
4 or 5 cloves of garlic minced
100g stoned dates
500g light brown sugar
600 ml cider vinegar
2 heaped tbsp English mustard powder
2 heaped tbsp of ground ginger
1 heaped teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
500 ml ale, bitter or stout (what ever you’ve got in the cupboard, I raided my other half’s stash!)
1. place all your ingredients into a preserving pan and bringing slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. take your time, there’s no hurry a good chutney doesn’t like to be rushed.
2. let the mixture simmer uncovered for 2 to 3 hours or however long it takes. you don’t have to hover over the pots every bubble, have it simmering in the background. Read a book, do a spot of crochet whatever pastimes floats your boat, popping over to the pan to stir gently from time to time to ensure it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan.
3. the chutney is ready when it has thickened and has a shiny consistency. Rich in colour and well reduced, with some chunks of veg still visible for texture. The trick in judging when your chutney is ready is to draw a wooden spoon through the mix, when it takes the liquid a few seconds to backfill the space your ready.
4. with the chutney still hot fill your hot sterilised jars with the chutney packing down with the back of a spoon as you go to exclude any air. Seal with vinegar proof lids. Store in a cool dark place for a couple of months to mature before using. I always find I have a small quantity that is never quite enough to fill a jar so I like to put this in a clean teacup and keep in the fridge to use within a couple of weeks.
The result is a warm and sweet ale chutney, lovely with a ploughman’s or a top a lovely slice of cheese on toast. Use within 2 years.
The only problem is we still have three more of the flipping things in the shed!