Marrow lemon ginger and cardamom preserve

Marrows ~ what on earth do you do with them?

They are pretty much flavourless, and only really work if you stuff them with a highly flavoured and spiced meat and vegetable mix. Which I’ve tried and am not in a rush to repeat. They seem purely to exist as a vehicle for other flavours.

So what to do with a large bag of homegrown salads and veggies that a friend gave me that included a couple of marrows? Hit him with them, was my first idea, second was to bin them. But then curiosity got the better of me and I started to have a flick through my cookbooks.

I’m not a fan, nor are many others including Sophie Grigson,  so I’m in good company. In her “Vegetable Bible” she tickled my interest with a recipe for Marrows, ginger and cardamom preserve.  Grigson describes it as  the best thing you can do with a marrow ~ high praise indeed!  With the zest and juice of lemon, the “tingle” of ginger and the fragrance of cardamom it works a treat.

It is a preserve not a jam, it doesn’t set, so don’t even bother trying to get it to a setting point. Grigson says it makes about 7 x 450g or 1 lb jam jars, but I found it to be much less.

The joy of cooking this conserve is the aroma. The kitchen filled with Lemon and Ginger. Bliss.

Marrow lemon ginger and cardamom preserve

Ingredients ~

  • 2 to 2.3 kg ( 4 1/2 – 5 lb) Marrow – about 2 large Marrows. You need about 1.5 kg or 3 1/4 lb prepared marrow
  • 1.5 kg (3 1/4 lb) granulated sugar
  • 2 lemons
  • 5 pieces of preserved stem ginger, chopped
  • 10 green cardamom pods

Method ~

  • Peel the marrows and remove the seeds.
  • Cut into small chunks (2cm / 3/4 inch).
  • Place the marrow chunks in a pan of boiling water and simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Drain and rinse under the cold tap, and leave to drain thoroughly.
  • Now layer the marrow with the sugar in a large bowl, cover with a tea-towel and leave overnight.

  • Next day, scrape the sugar, marrow and juices into a large preserving pan.

  • Pare off the zest of the lemons into thin strips, then shred finely.

  • Add the lemon peel to the pan together with juice of the lemons.
  • Add the ginger and cardamom.

  • Stir over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the marrow becomes translucent and the syrup is thick.
  • The preserve is ready when the marrow become glassy and the syrup is thick.
  • There is no exact cooking time given in the original recipe. From my making it, I’d say about an hour on a low heat, simmering with regular stirring.
  • As with all “jams” it suddenly goes to the consistency you are looking for – thick, and in this case, clear and gloopy.
  • Note that the marrow doesn’t break down completely (as I was expecting it to do).
  • Take off the heat and pour into sterilised jars and seal tightly.

  • Store and then eat!

So to answer my original question “Marrows ~ what on earth do you do with them?” make Jam!

Gardening Notes ~

I don’t grow marrows. But I’m happy if once a year I’m given 2 of them to make this lovely conserve.


  • I make Marrow and ginger jam using Certo (liquid pectin), with that you can get a reasonable set; it isn’t an exact science like other jams but I have to say it is one of my favourite preserves. I don’t grow marrows here in Italy so I usually let a courgette get huge and use that. Thanks for deciding to follow me.

    • Hi Christina, I haven’t heard of liquid pectin before now so I will have to find out more about it, Thank you, and thanks for popping into the promenade !

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