Valerie O’Connor extols the virtues of courgettes, which she says are the fruit that just keeps on giving
Courgettes and Other Stories.
By the end of summer the courgette glut will be driving people mad, from fries to cakes, jams and jellies, it’s hard to turn your nose up at this fruit that just keeps on giving.
If you’re lucky enough to have a glasshouse or space in a polytunnel you will already have been enjoying courgettes for weeks and are probably making decoupage from their dried flowers at this stage.
If your plants are outside, then they might just be getting down to some fruiting in this gorgeous weathe r that just can’t make up its mind. I’ve done the battered flowers and the chips, so now let’s move on to pastures more interesting.
I find that anything fried always goes down a treat, everybody likes crispy, crunchy things just as everybody loves things wrapped in pastry. These fritters are easy and fast, cost nothing if you’ve grown your own veg and are made in minutes, a veritable ten-minute lunch, who doesn’t want that?
Get a tea towel and lay it in a colander, grate the courgettes and toss them with the salt and pop this into the colander. Let it drain for ten minutes and then pick up the cloth by the corners and squeeze out as much liquid as you can, otherwise you will have soggy fritters.
Pile the grated veg into a big bowl and add all the remaining ingredients, mix everything together well to combine it all.
In a large frying pan heat up some coconut oil and spoon in blobs of the mxture, flattening them out as much as you can to make little patties. In this case, size doesn’t matter. Fry them on both sides until nicely browned and keep them warm as you do the others, drain them on kitchen paper. The batch will make quite a few patties and you can keep them in the fridge to refry for a couple of days.
I love to have these with the amazing salsa below, made by the amazing Dearbhla Reynolds and taken from her book The Cultured Club. This is a fantastic ferment to have in the fridge and it just bursts of summery freshness.
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, then pack into a clean 1 litre jar, making sure you leave 2.5 cm headspace for gasses to build up.
Close the lid and allow to ferment for at least three days at room temperature. It will create a lot of gas over the few days so be sure to open once a day to let these out. Put the jar in a dish to collect any that escape freely.
Once it’s ready transfer to the fridge where it will keep for six months.
I’ve eaten most of this on one week so it’s a good idea to make a larger batch if you can.
You might not think of it but courgettes make an excellent kraut and so easy too. As they are juicy you need to do nothing to them, just stuff them into a jar. This is one of many ways to use up your glut.
Grate the courgettes, two to three large ones should fill a one-litre jar and sprinkle over 1 tblsp salt. Mix it all with your hands.
Stuff this into a clean one litre jar and leave enough breathing space at the top.
I like to weigh down ferments like this with a small jar or stone to ensure the food stays under the liquids.
Ferment on your counter top for about 5 days in summer, keeping the jar in a dish to catch escapey juices. Open once a day to burp it and expect it to spit at you. Ferments have no manners.
Enjoy this with any summer salad or cold meats (I may not eat meat but I get it that lots of people do and ferments are great with any fatty foods).
Fermented Courgette Sticks
You can make something even easier by simply cutting your courgettes into chunks or sticks and packing them into jars and pouring in a ‘brine’ to cover them, always leaving space at the top and ideally weighing them down.
The ratio for brine that I use is 1 tblsp sea salt (never table salt) to one litre water, always spring water, bottled is better than tap as tap water has chlorine and will kill the good bacteria as well killing the good bacteria in your gut.
Use a leaf from a grapevine or a cherry tree (the fruiting kind) at the bottom of the jar to keep the veg crunchy. Ditto when using cucumbers.
Though you may be sick or courgettes you will feel differently in the middle of a dark winter when you’re happy of some fresh tasting veg that are full of vitamins, enzymes and amino acids.
Spiralize some courgettes and pretend they are spaghetti! Life’s too short though right?
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