A couple of hefty marrows came my way recently. For our transatlantic friends, that’s zucchini or squash, before you balk at the thought of bone marrow jam! This led me to go very retro…
The first marrow I halved, baking the one half stuffed with savoury minced meat (though I forgot my mum’s trick of topping it off with a thick cheese sauce) which the OH and I thoroughly enjoyed.
I ‘jammed’ the second half, then a couple of days later tackled an enormous specimen which had sat looming for a few days in the kitchen at the place I work as a volunteer; when it became clear that no-one there either was going to tackle this giant, I took it home to save it from a slow and ignominious desiccation.
I ferreted out a couple of recipes to remind myself of the quantities and came up with an approximation that worked quite well. I hope that what follows is actually what I did – the memory is a bit unreliable these days!
The first batch (the half marrow) I did plain, and with the addition of apple, as I was a bit short on the lemons, and I did the the second batch with the addition of rum and no apple
Both versions make rather fine jam tarts! Those of a younger generation tend not to know of the jam and I usually present it to people just as ginger jam and ask them to guess the mystery ingredient!
For the basic recipe you simply need roughly equal quantities of marrow and sugar plus lemons and some form of ginger to flavour. You could also add a large baking apple or a couple of eating apples (peeled and chopped) to help the set if you wish.
The budget options of dried or root ginger work fine, & it’s what my mum would have used, but I rather like the stem ginger version. It goes quite a long way, and you can always eke it out with a bit of the other sort if you’ve lots of marrow!
You can also play around with the addition of other spices (cinnamon or cardamom, perhaps) or alcohol: I used rum – a spiced rum would work really well I suspect, as would a brandy.
2 kg marrow, peeled, de-seeded and chopped into small cubes
2 kg granulated or preserving sugar
Zest and juice of 3-4 lemons, unwaxed or well washed in hot water
A 350g jar of stem ginger in syrup, drained, rinsed and chopped into small pieces. (My preferred, though more expensive option.Keep the syrup for pouring on to bananas and ice-cream for a quick sundae.)
15 -25g ground ginger (again, approximately – add to taste)
a 50 – 75g piece of root ginger, peeled and finely grated.
or indeed, a combination of the above, depending on what’s in your store cupboard.
Rum or brandy – add a good slug to taste at the last minute before decanting into the jars (or add a tablespoon per jar and stir in carefully with long-handled jam spoon).
Put the prepared marrow (and apple if using) into a large , heavy pan with a little cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer until soft (probably 15 minutes or so).
Drain well, and return to the pan.
Mash the marrow thoroughly to a pulp and then add the lemon juice, zest, ginger and sugar.
Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to the boil until the jam thickens to setting point. stirring occasionally. This could take 20 minutes or rather longer, depending on how watery your marrow was, how well you drained it and many other imponderables, so don’t worry if it takes longer. Just keep stirring and testing!
When at setting point, you can add the optional rum or brandy to the pan just as you turn off the heat. Let it stand for a minute or so, then pot and seal in warmed, sterilised jars. It’s fine straight away, but also matures quite nicely – handy for Christmas presents.