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Courgette Saturday!

There is nothing quite like the feeling of abundance as we move into August here in Central Portugal. Nature never ceases to show us her abundance every day, in the form of our gardens. Whether large or small, permaculture style or more standard, with a little care in the form of water, a handful of estrume(manure) here and there, and with the added force of the portuguese summer sun, the earth cannot fail to produce gluts in many forms.

I wonder if, for many of you, the present glut is the wonderful courgette!?

How many different ways have you tried to recreate the beauteous courgette recently or indeed another vegetable or fruit?

Sophie, a few years ago, came up with a brilliant idea of Courgette Saturday, where everyone had to bring a dish to share that was primarily made with courgette. The 1st prize in this case given to courgette and goat cheese tart, made with home made goat’s cheese! Their trophy naturally being an overgrown courgette with a number 1 scored into it!

My particular favourites from the list of recipes from Courgette Saturday are raw courgette chocolate, deep fried courgette flowers and courgette sashimi. Getting inspired yet?

How about these few extra ideas too which were all made on ‘Courgette Saturday’ – courgette fritters, courgette soup, courgette bread, stuffed courgette, courgette and mozzarella salad, grilled courgettes and of course the deserts which along with the raw courgette choccie there was 2 x courgette chocolate cakes and courgette chocolate orange muffins.

I myself have stacks of beans at the moment and feel the urge to start salting, pickling and fermenting. When I get my soon, glut of cabbages, I will magically transform a lot of them into the wonderful live food, sauerkraut. I guess the same would be possible with grated courgette. In fact any vegetable can be fermented. A favourite mix of mine being grated carrot, white and red cabbage. If you like a bit of spice, add chilli to make the very delicious Korean ‘Kimchi’.

Maybe it’s time that Sara and Rita finally host their Sauerkraut/Kimchi making workshop, makes sense. For those of you who are interested and may not be able to attend the workshop which will be held near Figueiró da Serra, Gouveia, check out the article on Health Ambition for some information on making fermented foods.

I will of course be experimenting with fermenting grated courgette soon and will let you know how I get on. For lots of easy and inspiring recipes for making other fermented foods, we love The Cultured Club: Fabulous Funky Fermentation Recipes by Dearbhla Reynolds

For those of you who feel inspired by eating more live food, I also have milk kefir grains and water kefir grains to share.

Blessed with all this sunshine, a friend of mine has been sun drying thinly sliced courgette, which have been pre soaked in salt water. The result, very delicious and healthy courgette crisps. Funnily enough the other day while visiting the same friend, she was preparing another enormous amount of sliced courgettes for drying and she asked me to help her with some baking. Yes, you guessed it, courgette cakes!This particular experiment ended up being courgette chocolate/carob cakes.

Back to the subject of sun drying. I have had a lot of success sun drying many, many things here in Central Portugal, which is a real joy after living in Ireland for many years, where I only had the option to dry fruit, mostly apple rings, on top of the cooling Stanley range. Gluts from my land are first mulberries, then figs, then grapes and blackberries.

I also have incredibly generous neighbours who always share their gluts of peaches, plums, pears and apples with me. These all dry amazingly well, but of course you have to remember to at least cover them at night and be very patient, particularly with the enormous black figs that take as long as 3 weeks to dry.

For those of us who aren’t so much into sugar and jam making, dried blackberries and grapes for muesli, are a treat and quick to dry depending on the intensity of the sun. It’s also possible to make a solar drier to quicken the process.

This year I had to make a goat proof drying frame, which you will understand why if you read, or have read, my blog about goats. ( The structure is unstable to say the least being 2 metres off the ground and in between 4 olive trees which are spaced sufficiently to allow full sun on to the drying frame. It is attached to the trees with ropes and the frame is made from left over bits of wood. The laughable part is when making it, I didn’t really consider the practicality of getting the fruit on and off, as i myself, even being tall and standing on a stool, can only reach about one tenth of the surface area!(need to get creative and make a tool to do said job) Plus, only if I and the kids solely pick fruit for the next month will we feasibly be able to cover the entire 3m2, but we’re too busy chasing goats around! My advice is, keep it small and manageable. Like last year I sensibly used a friend’s veranda to dry apples, pears, peaches and mushrooms.

Let’s get creative and really enjoy the bountiful harvest this year and not let too much food go to waste. Of course at the same time understanding, living this blessed life, that nothing goes to waste ultimately, whether it be eaten by birds, fertlises the tree or ground where it lands, or ends up on the compost pile.

I’d love to hear about your preserving ideas and perhaps even more courgette recipes so feel free to leave a comment below or on our new facebook discussion group Pure Portugal – Living the Good Life.

2 thoughts on “Courgette Saturday!

  1. Thank you my friend for this beautiful articoli. Courgettes abundance indeed! I love the idea of courgette Sunday, but it happens to be in Milan… Auch! The kimchi workshop will defently come up next!love

  2. Let’s get a ‘next glut’ day happening after you return and also the kimchi/sauerkraut workshop. See you after the 20th. x

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