Sunday, January 14, 2007
I managed to get hold of some Seville oranges a few days back, Monday or Tuesday, not sure, so, yesterday, Phyllis and I set about making some of Paddington Bear's favourite sandwich filling: marmalade.
Take 1kg of seville oranges. Halve them and juice them. Then, with a dessert spoon, scoop out the pith and pips, leaving something of an empty shell. You don't need to be too meticulous about that, though, dear reader. Any remaining pith attached to the skin will be dissolved during boiling.
Meanwhile, slice the orange peel into strips; thick, thin or medium - the choice is yours.
These strips are medium.
Place the pith and pips in a medium saucepan with one litre of water. Place the pan on a high heat and bring to the boil. Once this is achieved, turn the heat down to as low a point as you can get it, simmering, with the lid on at a tilt (allowing a little steam to escape) for an hour.
After the hour, pass the contents of the pan through a sieve, forcing as much as you can through with a spoon. Get as much as you can as this divine mess contains copious amounts of pectin - and it's the pectin that makes the marmalade set, dear.
While the pith and seeds are cooking, dear reader, place the shards of peel, the juice from the oranges and the juice from one large and juicy lemon in a large and roomy jam pan along with one and a half litres of water and your messy pectin-rich mixture.
Pop the pan onto a high heat and bring to the boil, then simmer, uncovered, for about two hours. The peel should be soft enough come the end of the cooking time to easily break apart between your thumb and finger.
Once the two hours are up, add 2kg of sugar. I used jam sugar with added pectin. This means less boiling time, a clearer/brighter marmalade and a better set.
Keep the heat very low at this point. The marmalade must not begin to boil or even bubble before all the sugar has completely dissoved. If the marmalade boils too soon, crystals of sugar will appear in the end product. This won't be very nice. In fact, it will be vile.
Keep stirring with a wooden spoon. You don't want your marmalade to catch, doll.
Once all the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan up to a rolling boil on a very high heat. A rolling boil means a bubbling pan that won't be stirred down.
Pop two or three saucers in the freezer or ice compartment of your fridge, hen. You'll need these to test for a set, later.
If you've used sugar with added pectin, you'll probably only need to boil the marmalade for one or two minutes to reach setting point. If you've used ordinary sugar, you'll probably need about fifteen minutes of boiling time.
For a rough idea, take a wooden spoon, stir it around in the marmalade. Hold it off and let the drips run off. If the final drip simply drops into the pan, your marmalade is not ready. However, if the final drop hangs from the spoon, either refusing to fall or taking a very long time indeed, your marmalade is probably set.
If you think the marmalade might be set, turn out the heat and pop a wee spoonful onto a cold saucer retrieved from the freezer, then return it. After a minute or two, take it out again and have a look. You can tell if you've got a set by pushing the mixture with your finger. If it has a really crinkly skin, it is set. If not, re-light the pan and return it to a rolling boil for another couple of minutes.
Once you're confident of a set, decant your jam into jars which have been sterilised with boiling water and pop a lid on straight away. You'll then get a lovely vacuum seal which will aid the preservation of your delicious home made marmalade, of which you should have about three kilos.
I sometimes make wee variations to my recipe. While the peel is cooking in the water, I sometimes add a tea-bag, sometimes a split vanilla pod, sometimes a cinnamon stick or sometimes a shot of whisky. Another variation I like it to replace 250g of the sugar with dark brown sugar. The end result is quite fabulous.