It's almost autumn and the marrows are growing thick and fast now in the vegetable garden. These super sized cucurbits come from the same family as courgettes, cucumbers, melons, squash and pumpkins. This beast of the vegetable plot has a bad reputation and has largely gone out of fashion thanks to cooks using the same old methods of stuffing them with beef mince. This is a shame because there are loads of really tasty and innovative ways to use marrow vegetables if you have a glut.
Many recipes that you find for courgettes will also work well for marrows too. The main difference, in terms of taste, is that marrows have a harder outer skin and a more watery flesh which does not have much in the way of flavour. The skin is edible but you will probably prefer to remove it since it is tough. A marrow also has large seeds inside which you can also eat but are normally scooped out and removed depending on the recipe. Here's loads of recipes and ideas on what to do with a vegetable marrow which may make you wish you'd grown more.
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Lots of Ideas and Ways to Use Up a Glut of Marrow Vegetables
When to Pick Marrows for Eating
You can pick and eat marrows at any point. When they are very small, the slugs will sometimes beat you too it and start gorging on them while the skin is still very soft. I often find them hollowed out where the insides have been eaten.
Picked young, they're just like courgettes although there are apparently some botanical differences between the two plants. If I want to use them like courgettes then I'll pick mine while the skin is still soft and I can press a fingernail into it easily. I'll also pick them narrow and slim enough that I can still slice though them easily.
For a mature marrow, I'll leave it growing until the skin is nice and tough. That way it should be good for storage and a nice big size for roasting or using in recipes like soup where a bigger quantity of the flesh is needed.
1: Vegetable Marrow Soup Recipes are Easy to Make and Store in the Freezer
Courgette, Potato and Cheddar Soup - this is a great soup recipe for marrow from the BBC good food site. It's easy to make and a good way to use up a glut. This recipe doesn't have a big punch of flavour to it but it makes a tasty and hearty vegetable soup nonetheless.
I recommend that you do use the extra mature cheddar cheese because this really makes a difference to the taste. Also make sure that the stock cubes you use are very flavoursome because these, with the cheese, provide the whole taste of the dish. I used regular onions and shallots instead of spring onions and salt and pepper to taste.
Freezing Soup: soup is ideal to make and store in the freezer. You can normally keep them for around 3 months or so and sometimes much longer. I use freezer bags in different sizes depending whether I want a single portion for myself or for a family size helping.
To Defrost Soup: put the bag in the fridge overnight. I place mine on a dish or small tray in case of any leakage. Sometimes I will leave the soup at room temperature to speed up the defrosting process. Once liquid, take the soup out of the bag and heat it up using your normal method. I prefer heating soup on the hob. You should eat all of the soup up or throw it away. Once defrosted you should not re-freeze it again.
More Soup Recipes with Marrow:
Mild Curry Marrow Soup
Courgette, Pea and Pesto Soup - I would remove the seeds of the marrow and the skin and cut into chunks for this recipe.
Marrow, Courgette and Carrot Soup
Marrow, Potato and Sage Soup
Marrow and Ginger Soup
2: Marrow Chutney and Relish Recipes
I've never made chutney but I like eating it! In a properly sealed jar it will keep for many months - some people are happy to keep them for years. Once open, you can keep it for weeks in a fridge. If it smells, tastes or looks unpleasant or strange at any point then discard.
Chutneys are wonderful to eat along with cold meats and cheese where they can add a real burst of flavour to an otherwise plain dish. They make fantastic gifts and presents to give at Christmas time and are perfect to use with that leftover Turkey.
Marrow Chutney with Ginger
Courgette and Tomato Chutney - skin, de-seed and dice marrow.
Spicy Marrow Relish
3: Marrow Jam
Smothered on homemade bread or thick, buttered toast, jams are a real comfort food. Homemade jams can keep for years if the jars have been properly sterlised and sealed. However, they can start to crystalise if kept for too long. Once opened, refrigerate and watch for any mould developing at the top. Jams are best eaten before the next harvest.
Plain or Ginger Marrow Jam
Marrow and Ginger Jam
Plum and Marrow Jam
4: Marrow Pasta Recipes and Dishes
Creamy Courgette and Bacon Pasta - I had this with marrow that had been skinned, de-seeded and diced into small cubes. A good quality bacon along with Parmesan cheese gives this a nice flavour. I also cooked the marrow separately to everything else, drained and roasted off in the oven for a short time to reduce the wetness that you tend to get with this vegetable. It's a yummy dish and also works well substituting marrow for runner beans.
Creamy Courgette Lasagne
Marrow Spaghetti Olivnaise
5: Pickled Vegetable Marrow
Pickled Marrow Recipe
6: Marrow Fritters
Marrow and Parsley Fritters
7: Marrow Cake Recipes and Muffins
I haven't tried any but there are some cakes and sweet recipes using marrow that have rave reviews. The tea cake sounds tempting to me. Apparently the addition of this vegetable makes the cake mixture nice and moist.
Marrow Tea Cake
Marrow and Pecan Cake
Carrot, Courgette and Orange Cake
Brie, Courgette and Red Pepper Muffins
Swiss Chocolate Marrow Brownie
8: Stuffed Marrow Doesn't Need to be Mince!
I like to cut the marrow in half down the length. I will then scoop out the seeds in the middle, then layer on sliced onions or shallots and sliced or halved tomatoes depending how big they are. I grate loads of and cheese on top and add some fresh basil on the top.
For a non-vegetarian version, top this with some slices of bacon. Add some tomato sauce or tomato passata for a stronger tomato flavour. Wrap this in foil then cook on a medium heat (gas 5 or 6) for around an hour. It could take more or less time depending on the size of the marrow. You can test by taking it out of the oven and poking a skewer into the flesh. It should go in easily if the flesh is cooked and soft.
Cheese and Vegetable Stuffed Marrow
Stuffed Marrow Bake with Turkey Mince
Cheese and Tomato Stuffed Marrow
Vegetarian Baked Marrow
Stuffed Marrow with Minced Beef
9: Marrow Rum Drink
If food doesn't quite tickle your fancy, how about brewing up some marrow rum.
Marrow Rum Recipe
10: Use Young Marrows Just Like Courgettes
You can see marrows growing at different stages in this photo of my plant. A yellow flower, baby marrow with flower still attached, courgette sized and a mature vegetable at the bottom.
Young marrows, cut while still small and with a soft skin, can be used in place of courgettes. I like to wash them, slice them and fry them in olive oil and use as a vegetable accompaniment for any hot meal. To check if the skin is still soft, just gently push your fingernail into the skin and a mark will show up easily on a young marrow.
As long as they are slim enough for me to slice up easily for frying, I will cut them up to around 10 inches or 25 cm long. After that I tend to leave them on the plant to mature into a marrow for soups, roasting, baking and storing.
There are tons of courgette recipes online. BBCGoodFood has some of my favourite recipes for courgettes and marrows. AllRecipes.co.uk is also good because you can read the reviews before trying.
11: Stuffed Marrow Flower Recipes
There is a trend or fad for edible flowers. I've tried a few and I think there are much better things to eat. After seeing slugs slithering all over the marrow flowers every morning, there's no way I'd ever want to eat one of those. If you had one at a fancy restaurant, just hope it was washed well before being prepared for cooking! At least by making your own as part of your marrow glut recipes, you can make sure they are actually clean first.
Deep Fried Courgette Flowers with Ricotta Cheese
Freezing Courgette and Marrow Flowers to Use Later
Marrow and Courgette Flower Frittata
12: How to Store Marrows and How Long Will they Keep?
Picking to Eat Within a Week: If you want to eat the marrow within a week, you can cut it off at the stalk at any size you want. Secateurs tend to work best for cutting. Then just wash and prepare it for whatever recipe you're using. If I'm not eating it on the same day, I'll store mine in the fridge for up to a week. Some people will keep theirs for longer but apparently the vitamin content degrades if you do this. So the fresher, the better.
Growing for Longer Term Storage: If the skin is soft when you pick your marrow, it isn't going to be good for long term storage because it won't keep well. For storing, you want to grow it until the skin is hard. The skin should feel hard to touch and there should be no give when you press down on it. I do the fingernail test which is to press a fingernail in to the skin, if it leaves an obvious mark then it's still too soft.
Some people knock the marrows to check for a hollow sound. Apparently, if it sounds hollow then it is good for storage. I think checking the hardness of the skin is a more reliable method.
When ready, cut it off the plant leaving a bit of stalk at the end of the marrow.
Leave it outside in the dry for a few days or under cover if it isn't dry. Make sure there is good air flow around the marrow. An outdoor table with holes in the surface is idea or a wire rack. If not just keep turning it around now and then so it isn't sitting on the same side all the time.
Store it in a cool and dry building. I keep mine in the garage. You can pop them on shelves although they can decay faster this way due to the constant pressure between the skin and the shelf. Hanging up individually in very strong netting (try doubling the netting over) or hessian sacks will allow the marrows to breathe and hence they should keep for longer.
They can keep this way for approx 3 to 4 months. Do check on them at intervals and get rid of any that are going rotten. Some people say to eat what's in storage before Christmas as a rule of thumb.
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