An ancestral recipe from Schleswig-Holstein 

Before I begin, I have to say that as far as I know I have no known ancestors from Schleswig-Holstein; However, I know I have ancestors from Colmar in Alsace, and more distantly, and in the new information from my DNA test, I have strong ancestral links to Norway, to Scotland (so that’s where the love of whisky comes from!) and yes, from Germanic Europe! Of course this is likely to be so distant that there is no point in even trying to trace that connection… any more than it’s worth trying to trace my 1% Nigerian DNA!

Back to Schleswig-Holstein; I’m looking at my Unusual Preserves recipe book from the Women’s Institute, It’s over fifty years old,, and the recipe I’m about to share is much older than that – it’s an ancestral recipe, but whose ancestor I have no idea, it doesn’t tell me. The recipe is for a sweet pickle and uses marrow which you hardly ever see nowadays; no-one in my family likes it, but I do, I think it has a mild, delicate flavour and I’m very fond of it. Marrows are renowned for being big, for being enormous sometimes, and in the past when nothing was needlessly wasted, all sorts of recipes could be found for the marrow.

This is an unusual recipe in the fact that it uses 8 lbs of marrow, yes eight – however many pots would that be, and how would a family get through it with al the other pickles, chutneys and preserves made from far more tasty fruit and vegetables. As with many old recipes, the amount of spice used is tiny, ⅔ oz cinnamon sticks, ⅓oz whole cloves  – how would you even detect that in eight pounds of vegetable, 3 pounds of sugar and a quart of vinegar? Here is the recipe, and if you’re tempted to use a smaller amount of marrow, then maybe you should use a larger amount of spice! The pennies by the way are the pre-decimal ones – just in case you have a few lying about.

Sweet pickled marrow

  •  8lb prepared marrow – marrows of any age can be used, peel, scoop out the pith and cut into pieces about 1½ inches long, and weigh
  • 1 quart white vinegar (2 pints)
  • 3 lbs sugar
  • ⅔ oz cinnamon sticks, (the weight of two penny)
  • ⅓oz whole cloves (the weight of 1 penny)
  1. Bring the vinegar, sugar and spice to boiling point. The cinnamon and cloves may be loose or in a muslin bag as preferred.
  2. Add the marrow all at once, and cook gently with occasional stirring until all the pieces are clear or translucent, but firm.
  3. Drain, and place the marrow in a bowl or dish to cool
  4. Reboil the vinegar till it becomes syrupy, adding any fluid from the marrow pieces as it drains off.
  5. The fluid should be reduced to about 1 ½ pints.
  6. Place the marrow in storage jars and pour the boiling vinegar over.
  7. Finish.

Should all recipes end like that – “finish”?!!

I have no pictures from Schleswig-Holstein, or of marrows, so I’m sharing a favourite photo of a lovely place, Dunham Massey.

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