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12 March 2007

Marmalade

I know it is late in the Seville orange season to be posting about marmalade but, I figured a good proportion of you reading would be oblivious to the fact and the rest will welcome the reminder to get a shufty on and start boiling those oranges.

I tried making marmalade last year using the recipe helpfully given to me by Abel & Cole. I ended up with amber gloop that Silverbrowess attempted to turn into one of Ms Food Porn's cakes, and which itself ended up as amber, floury gloop.

Usually, a fruit based condiment or jam sets thanks to the pectin present. You can buy pectin or, you can take advantage of nature's harvest and use naturally occurring pectin. Pips are usually the best source of naturally occurring pectin. A rather unscientific study I have undertaken, indicates that the best pectin comes from those fruits with the most numerous pips, in particular: tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries and Seville oranges.

I strongly advise you taste a Seville orange. You'll hate it. Why then my pro-tasting advice? Because, if like everywhere else I say don't taste it, it tastes horrible, you'll be an inquisitive bugger and think just how bad can it be? And you'll take a bite and regret it. But, then, when you have the finished marmalade you'll be delighted you gave it a go raw and realise fully the alchemy that can be concocted with a bit of heat, a bit of sugar, some water and a glug of whisky.

I used Sally Clarke's recipe as my base and tweaked it here and there, in particular the slug of Glenmorangie.

This makes just over 2 litres of marmalade.

  • 6 Seville oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • 1 sweet orange
  • A slug of Glenmorangie

Shred the skin (leave it attached to the pith) and set aside.

Juice all the fruit. Set aside all the pips and pith. Add enough water to the fruit juice to make up to 2 litres of liquid.

Gather all the pips from all the fruit and put into a muslin bag.

Place the muslin bag, the liquid and the shredded skin into a bowl. Leave overnight in a cool place, I put mine in the fridge.

Put all of the above into a stainless steel pot and simmer until the liquid is slightly reduced. At this point, I added a glug of whisky. (I also managed to spill some of the liquid and so lost some of my total quantity, it didn't seem to matter in the end.) Once reduced, leave all of this in a cool place overnight.

Remove the muslin bag and squeeze out all of the juices. Weigh the fruit and the juice. Measure out three-quarters of this weight in sugar.

Place all of the above in a stainless steel pan. Simmer for 1 hour and remove any scum.

After an hour, test the set of the marmalade by putting a dollop of it on a saucer and leave in the fridge for five minutes. I needed to simmer for about an hour and twenty minutes to get a decent set. Even then, the marmalade was not quite as hard set as the commercial stuff, but that is part of the charm, or so I argue.

Don't forget to sterilise the jars you are using to store the marmalade. I am going to lift directly from Sally Clarke's book here: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Lay the scrupulously clean jam jars on a baking sheet and sterilise in the oven for 10 minutes. Boil the lids in a small pan of water for 5 minutes to sterilise. Pour the marmalade into jars and screw on the lids firmly.

According to Sally Clarke, the marmalade will keep for up to 3 months in a cool place.

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And then take it out of the jars and cook with it (as well as the more usual blobs on toast). Loads of good recipes out there.

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