Learning to make jam and marmalade

I first learned to make jam from Dorothy Gash, wife of the distinguished historian, Norman Gash. Both were friends of mine. I had rented a cottage in St Andrews for the summer vacation, and found it featured a beautiful rose garden at the back, and several raspberry bushes. While I was there the berries grew plump and ripe. There were more than I could eat, so I rang up Mrs Gash and asked her how to make raspberry jam. She was much amused and told me her recipe, which basically involved boiling up equal weights of raspberries and sugar, and testing after 7 minutes or so by putting a spoonful onto a saucer. When it forms a skin you can drag with a spoon, it is ready.

I followed her instructions and found it worked. I made several jars of the most deliciously fresh raspberry jam, far better than any I've ever had from shops. I've used her recipe ever since, with the small addition of a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice, which I learned makes it set a little firmer and gives it extra zing.

There was no learned instructor to teach me when I graduated to marmalade, so I had to learn from books. Legend tells us it was invented in Dundee, just across the River Tay from St Andrews. A Spanish ship laden with Seville oranges was caught in a storm and put into Dundee harbor for safety. James Keillor, a small-time merchant, bought the cargo cheaply, and his wife turned it into marmalade to preserve it.

I like my marmalade very tart, so I use less sugar, which means I have to boil for longer and add a little pectin. I learned to leave the peel quite thick cut, and to include a grapefruit or sometimes a lemon with the oranges. Its taste was so distinctive that my friends queued up eagerly for jars every time I made it.