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Leading Dr and chef collaborate on this cooking tip for keeping midges away

The Scottish summer is upon us, and that means one thing – midges.

Published: July 6, 2021
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Experts have revealed a delicious way to evade midges using a simple combination of ingredients.

Developed by Scotch Beef PGI, Scotland’s leading midge expert Dr Alison Blackwell and chef Paul Green of The Torridon Hotel, the marinade is made from a tasty combination of midge-proof herbs and spices, including rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and garlic.

When added to beef and barbecued, the recipe releases aromas that form a natural midge deterrent, meaning you won’t be eaten alive while eating outdoors.

As well as devising a marinade, chef Paul has also developed an accompanying dip to be served alongside for maximum midge busting, using ingredients like lemon balm, basil and garlic.

The hack comes as holiday season kicks off, with the landscapes, lochs and hills of the Highlands making it one of the most popular UK destinations for both holiday-makers and midges.

Lesley Cameron, director of marketing and communications at Quality Meat Scotland, the industry body that promotes Scotch Beef PGI, said: “There’s no better way to enjoy the Scottish outdoors than with a barbecue surrounded by family and friends cooking top quality Scottish ingredients – that is until you’re suddenly swarmed by unwelcome guests in the form of midges.

“With the news that this year’s season is set to be particularly ferocious, we’ve consulted the experts to devise our midge-busting marinade as a brief respite from being eaten alive.

"As well as being a delicious addition to Scotch Beef PGI, it’s proven midge-proof properties are guaranteed to make it a winner at any summer get-together.”

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As well as stocking up on the marinade ingredients, those planning an outdoor activity are advised to check Scotland’s Midge Forecast, which was developed by Dr Blackwell using data from biting midge traps around the country.

Dr Blackwell said: “This year there’s due to be a bigger hatch than ever of Scotland’s famous Highland Midge – but that doesn’t mean you have to hide indoors all season.

"Using a combination of natural deterrents like rosemary, thyme, garlic and bay leaves can help save summer by making midges less of a nuisance.

“Each year the season is becoming even longer, so having an arsenal of ingredients to call upon will be key to outwitting the midge.

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"As well as the ingredients used for the Scotch Beef marinade, other herbs like mint, dill, lavender, geranium leaves and lemon balm are also effective, pairing well with beef as well as meats like Scotch Lamb.”

The marinade was devised and put to the test with the help of chef Paul Green of The Torridon Hotel on Scotland’s west coast; an area with some of the country’s most spectacular scenery.

Paul Green, head chef at The Torridon said: “I was very excited to be asked to help create a midge deterring marinade for Scotch Beef – midges are definitely an unwelcome guest to any Scottish summer feast.

"I'm always inspired by the robust and resilient produce that can grow in the Scottish Highlands, and what better way to fight nature than with nature, creating the best midge deterring recipe using some of the finest natural ingredients that can be grown in Scotland, like rosemary and thyme.”

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Midge-proof marinade recipe (serves two)

Ingredients

  • 5g rosemary
  • 5g thyme
  • 2 bay leaf, torn
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 15ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • A few drops Tabasco
  • A few black peppercorns
  • Good squeeze of lemon juice (and zest if you have a zester)
  • 3-400g Sirloin or Ribeye Scotch Beef steak, cut up into pieces
  • Sea salt

Method

  1. Begin by mixing the herbs, garlic, mustard, pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco and oil together in a bowl
  2. Add the chopped pieces of beef, coating well. You can also add vegetables to this marinade e.g., peppers, aubergine or even baby gem lettuce.
  3. Cover and leave to marinade for at least one hour, but you could also leave overnight in the fridge.
  4. Season with sea salt and cook on the BBQ.

Midge proof dip

Ingredients

  • 1 shallot
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 green chilli
  • 50g flat leaf parsley
  • 20g basil
  • 15g lemon balm
  • 200-250ml  extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Finely chop the shallot, garlic, chilli, parsley, basil, and lemon balm- or you could use a pestle and mortar to grind all the ingredients up.
  2. Drizzle in the olive oil and season with sea salt- you can add more oil to your own preference.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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