But it turns out there’s a very rewarding solution even for these monsters. One result of lockdown is the manner in which so many people have discovered in themselves a spirit of Victory Garden make-do-and-mend initiative. One of the austerity recipes that have been pressed upon me is for Marrow Rum. It is inspiring enough to make sure that if I do remember to harvest the courgettes while they are still worth eating, I’m going to let two of them expand into marrows, one for each leg. No, not my legs - although it has been said when it comes to alcohol my legs are hollow. The legs of a pair of tights. Read on; you’ll see.
The basic principle is to allow a marrow to grow fat enough that its skin becomes so tough you need a hatchet to break it up. Instead of wrecking it that way, though, you take off its stem end with a bread knife, low enough down to be close to where you can guess the seeds begin to appear. Then scoop them all out and discard them. Pack the hollow with Demerara sugar then stuff a marrow down the leg of a pair of tights - or two legs for two marrows, so long as you make sure neither marrow touches the other. Hang the marrow above a clean bucket in a warm place and leave it to rot. What eventually drips into the bucket is Marrow Rum.
I can’t imagine you aren’t as excited as me to try this out, so full instructions follow. You don’t need to make it immediately. Once a marrow’s skin has hardened, it won’t rot and you can wait until the end of high summer’s exhausting temperatures to begin brewing.
Ingredient amounts depend on the size of the marrow. You need wine yeast but if you can’t find any, at a pinch bread yeast can substitute. Otherwise, you want Demerara sugar and 1 orange per marrow.
Method for one large inedible marrow
- In two tablespoons of cool water from a boiled kettle, dissolve 2 teaspoons of Demerara sugar. Stir it in the juice of the orange. Add the yeast and leave, covered with muslin, for 8 hours or overnight to begin the fermentation.
- Saw off the stalk end of the marrow with a good sharp bread knife or a clean saw and set it aside.
- Scoop out all the seeds and pith and discard. Hammer a few holes in the bottom of the marrow with a clean skewer. Press Demerara sugar tightly inside the hollow then pour over the sugar-and-yeast liquid and put the stalk lid back on top, securing it with duct tape to seal the marrow container.
- Carefully slide the marrow, stalk end upwards, into a leg of the tights and hang it above a clean bowl in a warm place.
- After two to three weeks, liquid should start to drip into the clean bowl. It will take around 3 months before the dripping slows down and all you’re left with is the hard shell of the marrow and some squidgy marrow pulp. Squeeze it and whatever sludge remains in the tights, to extract every last drop of juice.
- Bottle in clean bottles, cork, and leave until next year’s marrow season - if you can - to raise a toast to the glory of vegetable torpedoes as they expand from courgettes into your subsequent rum supply.
This column written by Julia Watson originally appeared in the August 2020 edition of The Bugle.