Are vegetable marrows eaten in other countries? To me they seem typically British, and associated with village fetes and the biggest marrow competition, or meals in the past where a little meat had to go a long way so was stuffed into a marrow along with plenty of other vegetables, where it was covered with a white or cheese sauce to give it some substance. I think of jams and chutneys which would be an ingredient ‘and marrow’, to make the fruit go further, that phrase again! The idea was to produce something which tasted really good in its own right, and yet was economical and abundant.
There were all sorts different recipes and ideas of how to use a marrow. When my husband was a little boy his dad, Harold, heard about making marrow rum. It seemed so easy, cut one end off a marrow, scoop out the seeds, fill with brown sugar, tie the cut off end back in position, hang the marrow in a cool dark place, suspending it in an old stocking, with a hole in the bottom, through which would drip lovely marrow rum.
Harold acquired a marrow, probably from his brother-in-law Jack’s allotment, got an old stocking from his wife and no doubt with his son looking on in admiration of his clever day, chopped, scooped, filled, replaced, suspended… and left the magic to work. The marrow was hung in the loft… Some time later, as the family sat down to eat one evening, there was a soft but very audible “fthwaaaphthp”.
I think Harold must have guessed what was amiss; they ran upstairs, put the ladder up into the loft, and there was exploded marrow, sticky with the dissolved sugar, absolutely everywhere.
here is a much safer recipe for marrow soup, fragrant with herbs, just right of a hot summer’s day:
- 1 large marrow, cut in pieces
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1½ oz flour
- 2 oz butter
- 1 egg yolk
- bunch of herbs
- 4 tbsp cream or evaporated milk
- ½ pint milk
- ½ water
- salt and pepper
- fried bread or toast
- melt the butter and cook the marrow and onion for about five minutes but do not allow to brown
- add pepper, salt, water, herbs and simmer slowly until the marrow is cooked
- rub through a sieve and return to the pan
- blend the flour and cold milk and stir into the soup
- bring to the boil and simmer for eight minutes
- blend the egg yolk and cream and stir into the soup but do not let it boil
- serve with croutons of fried bread or toast
This is another lovely recipe from the National mark Calendar of Cooking published in 1935.
The record for the largest marrow, is I think, 113lbs – that is eight stone!!!