I love it when my husband’s customers tip him with fruit and veg from their gardens – not forgetting Farmer Christmas – who still leaves freshly-laid eggs on the doorstep every now and then – but I must admit to being bamboozled by the giant marrows that are left.
Last year I had a grand plan to make marrow rum: you scoop out the pith and seeds, fill the hollow with demerara sugar and yeast, tape the marrow shut and leave it in the airing cupboard for a year. Brilliant! My husband, however, was less than keen. He pointed out that we didn’t have anywhere suitable to put it, far less an airing cupboard. He also reminded me that last time I experimented with a recipe that involved yeast, fruit and an extended period of fermentation, it ended with a hazmat suit and a bin bag. And what if the marrow EXPLODED…?
Hurrumph. The upside to being married to a gastronomically risk-adverse person is that if I had made the marrow rum, it would be ready for drinking around about now – and I’m currently (grumpily) teetotal.
Then, as fate would have it, someone brought two sacks of plums to his workshop. Plums, plums and cream, plum crumble – we couldn’t eat them fast enough. Thus we ended up with a giant marrow in the fridge and an unopened sack of plums that were beginning to go a bit soft.
So, starting last year, we began making plum and marrow jam. We adapted a version of this recipe from the Good Food Channel, which I like for two reasons. Firstly, it’s super-easy, and doesn’t require jam thermometers or anything like that. Secondly, there are only three ingredients, so it’s also a simple matter to size the recipe up or down as required.
Plum and marrow jam
To make 4 kg of jam, you will need:
1 kg marrow
2 kg plums
2 kg preserving sugar
1. Peel, seed and roughly chop the marrow. It’s going to end up as jammy goop, so don’t worry about chopping it nicely.
2. Halve, stone and roughly chop the plums.
3. Place the marrow in a large bowl, with a third of the sugar. Toss or stir to coat with the sugar, and leave for at least 15 minutes.
4. Add the rest of the sugar to a saucepan, along with the chopped plums. As with all jam recipes, the thicker-bottomed your saucepan is, the better. However on a purely practical level, because of the quantities involved in this recipe you’re probably looking at the largest saucepan you have. The one that resembles a cauldron!
5. Add the marrow. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1.5 hours. Stir occasionally, skimming off any scum with a spoon.
6. Get your jam jars sterilised and ready! Some people put them in the microwave to sterilise them; others put them in the dishwasher. We don’t have either, so I wash the jars in hot, soapy water and then pop them into a low oven for 10-15 minutes.
7. After the jam has simmered for 1.5 hours, begin testing the jam to see if it is ready. Spoon a little onto a plate, leave for two minutes and then run your little finger through it. If the parting stays, it’s ready. If the jam gloops back together, it needs to simmer for longer.
8. Spoon the jam into the jars, allow to cool, then screw the lids on tightly. Done!
Two words of warning:
One. Don’t make the mistake that we made the first time around, which was to use preserving sugar with plums that were going soft. Plums have a lot of natural pectin (gelling agent), but it turns out that when they begin going soft, that pectin begins breaking down. So I should have used jam sugar, which has higher pectin levels. As it was, the jam took forever to set and to be honest, I think we ended up reducing it by quite a lot. It still tasted ok though.
Two. This recipe makes a lot of jam – so before you begin, make sure that you have enough jars! To give you an idea: if you make the jam in the quantities specified above, you’ll fill around ten regular-sized jam jars.
Plum and marrow jam.