Is that even a thing? Well it is now, especially in our house as I crunch my way through a bowl of deliciousness. With the holidays behind us and routine returning to normal, much to our surprise the sun decided now was a good time to shine and the weather has been glorious. This is what summer is all about. Then what happens? … another holiday. A long weekend to celebrate the anniversary of Auckland. Don’t get me wrong, I love a holiday as much as the next person, and we only have one more long weekend before the long run to Easter, but when you work from home and your hobby and your job is your garden, then sometimes leaving it is hard to do.
Sometimes it is hard for the garden too. With the first decent spell of good weather, the plants thrived in the sunshine, but at the same time it competed with it for the moisture remaining in the soil. It doesn’t take long to go from sodden to dry in the heat of midsummer. The beans plumped up and needed harvesting in quantities not seen before this summer, the tomatoes ripened, the strawberries put on a second wind and the cucumbers continued to go nuts, producing more than enough. The new potatoes and carrots I popped in the other day peaked through the soil to bask in the warmth of the day and the zucchinis quickly turned from being too small to being too big in the few short days we were away.
Most of the produce harvested were easy to treat, a quick blanch of the beans and into the freezer, tomato and cucumber salads and sandwiches for everyone and the gherkins got pickled. The strawberries – well they were just a treat, quickly gobbled up by all. But the marrows were a problem. I could stuff them with my favourite meatloaf mix, but we’d need to eat them every day to clear the back log and with so many other yummier vegetables I’m not sure how this would have gone down. Even dicing them and smothering them in cheese sauce seemed like an option, but not really a dish to celebrate this magnificent weather. This is salad season.
Then I thought … hmmm I wonder. This is often a risky course of events as not everything goes according to plan. But waste not want not and all that, I decided to try to make marrow chips.
A good size marrow was selected to start with – not too big in case we didn’t like them but not too small in case we loved them and quartered it lengthwise. Then I scooped out the seeds and peeled it. The next bit could have been tedious, but I got a cool new gadget for Christmas that slices and grates at the press of a button and makes the job quick and easy. So, I attached the slicer and ran the marrow through to get what looked like good chip sized slices that were about 3mm thick.
Note: I have to add, that next time, I will slice by hand and try to replicate the thin perfect slices the machine delivers, as I was limited by the size of the input chute which turned out to be a little too small.
The slices were then transferred to a large bowl and I added the juice of half a lemon, a pinch of sugar to take the sharp edge off the lemon, a dash of salt, because chips are supposed be a bit salty, some sunflower oil to make it all stick together and a bit of cracked pepper as an afterthought and mixed it all together so all the chips were well coated. So essentially, I made a vinaigrette. The options to get creative here are endless and next time I may try crushed garlic, white wine vinegar and finely chopped rosemary, or the oil you get in the sundried tomato jar, a splash of balsamic vinegar with finely chopped and crushed basil. Yummo.
I left them all to marinate as long as my patience would bear… so about 5 minutes. Longer would have been better, but the flavour was still very good. Then I carefully placed them on oiled dehydrator trays so they weren’t touching, set the dehydrate to the top setting and kept it on until the marrow was crispy. It probably took about 8 hours, but I’m not sure if this is the setting you are supposed to use as my instruction manual was lost years ago. I do most things on full these days with no real adverse effects. And for the marrow chips it seems it was the perfect setting for golden crunchy slithers of delight. The drying did cause them to shrink quite significantly and so next time I’ll keep them thin, but make them bigger – the bigger the better.
And in record time my family devoured an entire marrow in four minutes flat and were looking for more. I have to say this is the best use of what is normally an undesirable by-product of a moments inattention in the garden. The chickens often get marrow as a summer treat, but not anymore. I may even deliberately let zucchinis go beyond that young small, sweet, tender stage, just so we can make chips. I wonder what the yellow ones will be like……
I love it when a crazy plan turns out even better than expected.
Come again soon – the garden is bursting with inspiration.
Sarah the Gardener : o)