This recipe is originally taken from Riverford Organic Vegetables – www.riverford.co.uk – but I’ve reduced the amount of salt, and upped the date content. And yes, I occasionally still work in imperial measurements!
1 lb = 448g, make it 450g if it’s easier – cooking’s not, nor will it ever be, an exact science
Overall involvement: 4-5 hours (clear your afternoon – this is a therapeutic experience)
3 lb marrow
1 lb onions
1 lb ripe tomatoes
1 pint malt vinegar
6 oz dates
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground ginger (though I tend to use fresh, grated)
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1.5 lb brown sugar
Weights: All weights are after you’ve peeled and/or de-seeded whatever needs to be peeled and/or de-seeded.
Sugar: I often use a mixture of different brown sugars – light/dark muscovado and molasses – whatever’s to hand or leftover (darker sugar gives it a deep, richer taste).
- Peel the marrow and cut into small chunks (about 1-2cm cubes). Peel and chop (or mince) the onions. Peel and slice the tomatoes (roughly chop is easier – they break down soon enough), taking care to remove the tough piece where the stalk attaches.
- Put all these into the pan with half the vinegar. Stone and chop the dates and add these to the pan. Simmer gently until soft (remember to move it all about every once in a while, to get the marrow evenly cooked) until soft and pulpy and the marrow is approaching crushable.
- Add the spices, pepper and salt, and simmer for another 12-15 minutes
- Stir in the sugar and remaining half of the vinegar. Continue to cook until thick, which may take up to four hours. If you’re concerned that the marrow isn’t softening sufficiently, just give it time. It’s ready when no liquid oozes into the path made by the wooden spoon as it is drawn across the pan.
- Pour into warm jars (sterilised) with plastic or plastic coated metal lids, and leave for a good six months before opening – it needs time to mature and mellow – a year is best, if you have the patience.