The thick end of 30 years ago I worked with a chef from the Algarve in Portugal who used to blather on about a pumpkin marmalade that his mother made back home on that beautiful, sun kissed Atlantic coast. I would fain interest and say something like “that sounds amazing, you must give me the recipe” but in truth I couldn’t think of anything more revolting; a marmalade made of cattle fodder? What a backwards country Portugal must be. However I have to admit that pumpkin marmalade, slightly annoyingly, wedged itself in the deep recesses of my memory.
In my defence back in the mid 1980’s pumpkins and squash were not commonly used in this country for cooking. As a nation we were still oblivious to the joys of a good squash and even the American Halloween pumpkin revolution hadn’t really taken hold. It wasn’t until I travelled to Australia in 1988 that I first ate butternut squash. I’d been invited to a friend’s house for lunch and they roasted the squash with their potatoes! I couldn’t believe how amazing it tasted and I was converted instantly.
For years I thought about my Portuguese friend’s marmalade but never really got round to making it until last year when I had some left over pumpkin from my Halloween carvings. It’s so easy to make and you can use just about any kind of firm squash or pumpkin but to keep it seasonal I’m using the Halloween variety.
What you will need is:
2 banana shallots, sliced
2 red chillies, sliced without seeds
1 thumb of ginger, grated
1kg of pumpkin, cut into julienne (bear with me)
1kg of caster sugar
50 ml lemon juice
Now don’t get stressed about the cut of the pumpkin. If you’re lucky enough to have a mandolin, food processor or one of those turny things that makes vegetable spaghetti use that, if not try cutting it by hand into thin strips or even small cubes. It doesn’t really matter.
One more bit of knife work is the orange. Peel the skin off with a veg peeler and finely slice it. Remove and discard the pith and then slice up the flesh. Keep to one side for a moment.
Take your pumpkin, however you chose to massacre it, and put it in a large bowl. To that add the sliced shallots, the sliced chilli, the grated ginger, the sliced orange peel and all the sugar. Mix it well, cling film it and pop it in the fridge overnight.
In a separate, smaller bowl mix the water, lemon juice and the orange flesh. Again, cling it and stash it overnight.
The next morning heat a large, thick bottomed pan and put the contents of the orange bowl into it. Bring it to the boil and add the other bowl of pumpkin mix. Bring this to the boil and then cook out for approx. 30 minutes.
When the mixture is thick and syrupy remove from the heat. To store it either put it hot into sterilized glass jars or allow it to cool and put it into some kind of sealed Tupperware.
It may not be as authentic as my Old Portuguese buddies mum’s pumpkin marmalade, but it was 30 years in the making and I love it! Try it on your breakfast toast with a nice cup of Rosie. Top draw.