Day 362: Pumpkin Marmalade

We had another family Christmas celebration today and I made a beet salad from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book, the book I used everyday in 2012. After a wonderful potluck lunch, visiting with relatives, and music, I don’t want to make anything too challenging so I’m going to finish a recipe I started on Boxing Day. Today’s recipe from The New Galt Cook Book (1898) is for Pumpkin Marmalade and it was contributed by Mrs. Main and it takes several days to finish. I bought a pie pumpkin more than a month ago but it kept well in a cold part of my house. I did the first part on Boxing Day (December 26) and I’m completing the recipe today.

The first step was to cut the pumpkin open and clean out the “guts” and seeds. My sister took the seeds to toast them in the oven. Meanwhile I cut the pumpkin into slices and peeled it. Then I cut it into small chunks and weighed them. I had approximately 1 pound of pumpkin that I put into a bowl with 3/4 pound white sugar and 1 pint (2 cups) of water. I covered the dish and put it in the unheated sun-room to keep cool and sit undisturbed for two days.

Ready to cook.

Ready to cook.

Today I emptied the dish into a cooking pot but I wasn’t sure how much of the other ingredients to add. I washed and sliced 3 lemons and added them to the rest of the ingredients. It seemed about the right amount. The recipe talks of 5 lemons for a medium-sized pumpkin. My pie pumpkin was on the small side so I think 3 lemons will work. I took a chunk of ginger root, peeled it and chopped it into small pieces. I stirred everything together and left it to simmer for three hours. Unfortunately I forgot about checking the marmalade during supper and it nearly boiled dry. Part of it was quite caramelized. I removed it from the heat and set side a small portion to taste.

Mrs. Main is either Matilda Jane Bishop wife of William Emerson Main or else she’s Margaret “Maggie” Lowell widow of Henry Main. I made Mrs. Main’s cake recipe on day 241 and discovered then that Maggie might be the most likely contributor since various relatives are also in the cookbook. She also has a dramatic history. By the time her recipe appears in the cookbook she has had five children, the last one five months after her husband’s sudden death in 1888. His death was sudden because he was murdered! He operated a private bank and brokerage and apparently one of his former clients was upset. He arrived with a firearm and shot Henry Main at his place of work. The client then went further down the street to a nearby hotel and shot himself. Maggie continued to live in Galt with her children until at least 1911 but I lose track of her at that point. She died in 1933 when she was 83.

Pumpkin Marmalade ready to taste.

Pumpkin Marmalade ready to taste.

Pumpkin marmalade is okay. I added too much lemon and so it is very tart. I didn’t add enough ginger since I can’t even taste it. The pumpkin texture is a bit odd since it is still in cubes but very soft. However, a family member who loves marmalade thought this was an outstanding marmalade. I think this recipe has potential. As mentioned I’d change the proportions I used and a modern cook might consider adding some of the spices used in marmalade. There was dissenting opinions on this idea. It could be cooked down further and become more like a jam. The next time you have access to a pumpkin consider trying this recipe although the work in preparing the pumpkin is onerous (peeling and cutting take quite a bit of time) it could be worth it if you like marmalade or are willing to experiment.


Mrs. Main

To each pound pumpkin cut in pieces, add three-quarters of a pound of sugar; put in a vessel a layer of pumpkin and sugar till filled, add one pint of water, let it remain two or three days, then boil with lemon cut in thin slices and whole ginger, boil gently three or four hours till the fruit is tender boil the syrup till thick. To a medium-sized pumpkin five lemons, one dozen pieces of ginger.


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