I love courgettes but they do have a tendency to appear as a glut. Especially when you have seven plants.
We have almost managed to eat up this batch. They have been sliced and fried in butter; griddled, layered with tomatoes and cheese and cooked in the oven like an aubergine parmigiana;
and grated into a chocolate cake.
When the courgette glut really gets going I like to preserve some of them in lemon juice and olive oil. We managed to make a batch of these last week when the weather was still at it’s warmest. The photos below show the process, the recipe is at the bottom. It takes quite a long time to complete the whole process but it can also be broken down into chunks of activity and as you may be able to see from the photos, the whole family can get involved. Even Babykins likes to brush the sliced courgettes with oil, though it is Son Number One who is in the picture.
Courgettes Preserved in Lemon Juice and Oil
Juice and rind of 3 lemons.
Up to 2.5kg of courgettes (big or small)
1 large onion, finely diced or 300g shallots
about 6 cloves of garlic (or up to a whole bulb if you are brave)
fresh or dried herbs such as thyme, bay, oregano and perhaps a tablespoon of peppercorns
Approximately 500ml of olive oil, plus more for brushing over the courgettes before cooking
1. Slice the courgettes into long-ish pieces, 1/2 a cm thick and layer them in a bowl, sprinkled with salt. Rest them for about an hour then rinse and dry them.
2. While the courgettes are salting, finely slice the onion and garlic and sweat over a gently heat until translucent. Remove from the heat and set to one side.
3. Mix the lemon juice and rind with a tablespoon of salt in a large bowl. Add the cool onions and garlic and plenty of herbs.
4. Wash your jars in the hottest soapy water you can find. Rinse and place on a baking tray, the right way up. Put them in the oven and turn it on to 100 degrees C for at least 5 minutes. Ideally you want the jars to be hot when you pack them with the courgettes. You can use any recycled jars if the lids are clean and fresh. Personally, I find the golden syrup jars that Tesco sell their value golden syrup in are an ideal size. They are the round ones on the right in the picture below.
5. Before you cook the courgettes, brush them on both sides with oil. Heat up your griddle pan or fire up the barbecue. Cook the courgettes on both sides, covering them in nice, black, criss-crossing lines.
6. When the courgettes are cooked, place them in the lemon/onion/garlic/herb mixture. When they are cool enough, toss them all together, with your hands if necessary and then strain the courgettes, retaining the lemony juice in a measuring jug.
7. Begin to pack the courgettes into the jars. Use the end of a wooden spoon and some tongs to do this. Try to pack them in as tightly as possible. Fill the jars but not completely to the top. Leave a space so that they will be completely covered in oil.
8. Add olive oil to the lemon juice until you have 500ml of liquid. Place it into a pan and heat it to 80 degrees C (the oil will begin to boil) mixing it thoroughly, ideally with a whisk. Pour the hot oil/lemon mixture over the courgettes, sharing it out as equally as possible.
9. Make sure that the courgettes are completely covered with oil. Top up the jars with more if necessary.
10. These jars should store well right into the winter and make a quick and easy meal when mixed with pasta. They are also good on their own as a sort of antipasti.