Sunday, 27 February 2011

Marmalade in Heaven

February,  and the marmalade season has brightened my life.  I do get a little excited when I see Sevilles, too excited even, because this year I think I've made about 20 jars, filling my new maslin pan to overflowing. We all make marmalade, and every year my mother is required to declare whose is the best. I confess, I always win - though my sisters, strangely, always seem nearly as  triumphant.

This recipe is no secret, because it's a Delia.  Very dark and chunky, we found our last bottle was two years old, and gee, it was superb. It was Delia who said you could freeze the bitter little oranges.  Just think, I could have had 30 jars. The other beauty is the method, so totally me - long and slow. 

For my second tranche, I used The River Cottage marmalade recipe with demerara sugar - it has a superb light jelly, although I panicked about the amount of pith at the last moment, so spent three hours straining the syrup and trimming every single little shred!  Bliss.

Dark Chunky Marmalade
So: 3lbs (if you can contain yourself) Seville oranges
2 lemons
6 lbs white sugar

Scrub, obviously, add 5 pints water, and bring all fruit to a simmer. Cover well and gently poach for three hours.  Allow to cool, remove all pith and pips from the halved oranges and lemons into a saucepan, add about a pint of the liquor and boil for 10 minutes. Strain the whole lot through a large muslin cloth back into the pan.  Now: the slicing of the orange peel. This is a precision job, as my family has found out. This year I may have gone a teeny over-chunky - no matter. Add the peel back into the pan, and finally, the gooey pith from the  muslin cloth, squeezed and squeezed and squeezed.  If your hands aren't red and raw and stinging after all that.... it'll probably work just as well.   Cover the pan with a cloth, and leave overnight.  
At first light - although I think that's just me - warm the sugar for 10 minutes in the oven (as Delia helpfully puts it, in a roasting pan - like I'm going to pour 6lbs of sugar straight into my oven) and add to the warming liquor, stirring till the sugar is completely dissolved. Bubble gently for three or four hours.  Test for  wrinkles with a cold saucer. Don't be too strict.  The first time I made this marmalade, I boiled it for 6 hours, not believing I had got a set.  A few people lost fillings.

Four hours, and it really will be set.  Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes. More.  The very last thing you want, believe me,  is for the peel to float to the top. Ladle through a wide-mouthed funnel into freshly hot-dishwashered jars. Seal.  Relax.

Excuse me, I think I'm off to find some more oranges...

1 comment:

  1. Dear Jenny, your marmalade is really one of the best. But, we really are going to have to have a taste testing one day. My marmalade is spectacular. Well... most of the time - you know how marmalade can have a will of it's own and sometimes no matter how carefully you follow your favourite recipe, it just doesn't have that jizz.