As soon as the Christmas decorations come down in the first week of January, my mind immediately turns to the upcoming year of planting, picking and preserving. Plans to make, seeds to plant and lovely food and flowers to produce.
The first on the list is always marmalade. Admittedly, we don’t grow the oranges, but I can certainly whip up a mean batch of the gorgeous orange breakfast staple.
The smells in the kitchen during this process are fantastic and it’s so simple to do…..
You will need:
12 Seville oranges
2kg granulated sugar
30 ml Whisky (optional)
You’ll need to sterilise 6 or 8 decent sized jars
Put the oranges whole into a medium pan, with a lid, and cover with the water. Make sure the fruit is all covered by the water.
Simmer for around 20 mins, then pierce each orange. Simmer for another half an hour to ensure each orange is cooked through .
Ideally leave the pan to cool overnight with the fruit sitting in the water.
This helps to release more pectin, which helps the marmalade to set.
Next day, or once cool, lift the oranges from the water and place the water in your jam pan.
Add the sugar and heat slowly so it all dissolves.
Cut the oranges in half and scrape the flesh and pips into a bowl.
I used a sieve over the bowl and let a bit more juice drip through as I was scooping the flesh out.
A quick stir helped to push the pulp through as a thicker purée. I then added this purée into the jam pan.
Here’s another tip where a little bit of extra effort can make all the difference:
Tip the flesh and pips into a muslin square or coffee filter and tie. Hang the bag in the liquid while it boils up.
Slice the orange skins thinly. The amount of skin added to the marmalade is personal preference.
I added it all as we like it loaded and I didn’t want to throw out perfectly good skin. I made the mistake of slicing a bit too thick last year. I was going for ‘chunky’ but we ended up with proper lumps of skin, nice to eat, but tricky to spread and cut through on toast! Again, the thickness is a personal thing, but about the thickness of a pound coin is good.
Give the mixture a good stir, then leave on a rolling boil for 20-30 mins. Test whether the marmalade is setting by placing a spoonful on a cold plate.
If it wrinkles as you run your finger through it, and your finger leaves a gully in the mixture, then it should be ready to pour into jars.
You can either add the whisky to the mixture before pouring it into jars, or you can put a measure into each jar before pouring in the marmalade mixture. I’m not sure which is better for flavour, so there might be need for a taste test there!
One thing to be aware of is that the added liquid to the jar can affect the final set of the marmalade, so you may want to mix it in to the marmalade before adding to the jars. Again, this is personal preference.
And job done! I do go a bit Paddington and have a marmalade sandwich as the first taste test. Thick bread, lashings of butter and still slightly warm marmalade – Lovely!