I don’t like marmalade.
I’ve never liked marmalade.
I went through these two statements in my head the other day, and then I thought to myself, ‘But perhaps I do’. You see, because I have known all my life that I don’t like marmalade, I’ve never tried it again since I was about 7 years old.
So then I started thinking about children not liking food, and how you should get the kids involved in cooking using the ingredients they think they don’t like. And then voila! They will at least try them. And quite possibly like them, as they are so proud of what they have made.
You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? The farm shop had lovely looking seville oranges, and I decided to test my hatred of marmalade, by making a big vat of the stuff.
I LOVE making preserves, and have several cookbooks devoted just to that, in addition to various back to basics cookbooks and family cookbooks which I was certain would have good recipes. I consulted my go-to website for finding recipes eatyourbooks. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but if you haven’t read that post, then I’ll tell you about it again – if, like me, you have many cookbooks and no longer have an encyclopaedic knowledgeable of exactly what recipes are in which. Register them on the website, and you’ll be able to search for recipes, or on particular ingredients, and it will tell you which books or magazines will have the recipes you are seeking.
So, I narrowed my choice down to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, or Thane Prince. And Thane won (and not only because I follow her on twitter, but because I love her no-nonsense recipes with her explanations of WHY you do certain things).
But of course, being me, I didn’t exactly follow the recipe word for word – I didn’t have enough granulated sugar in the cupboard and was determined not to go back out to the shops again, so I substituted with a mix of caster and dark brown muscovado sugar.
Orange and ginger marmalade
From Jams and Chutneys by Thane Prince. If you are even vaguely interested in preserving, buy this book – it covers the basic techniques and then delicious recipes for everything from an every day raspberry jam, through frozen cranberry vodka to smoky barbecue sauce.
- 1.25kg Seville oranges, scrubbed in warm water
- 115g fresh ginger, cut into 1″ nubs and then crushed
- 1.5kg unrefined sugar (I used 3/4 caster sugar; 1/4 muscovado)
- 200g jar stem ginger preserved in syrup, drained and chopped into slivers (keep the syrup – you’ll need it later)
You will also need a large muslin square, a big heavy based pan and preferably a jam thermometer (although this is not necessary)
- After scrubbing the oranges pop them whole into a large heavy-based pan, with the smashed lumps of ginger and 8 cups of water
- Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer for about 45mins till the fruit is soft and squishy
- Using a holey willie (this is what we call a slotted spoon in my family!) remove the ginger and the fruit from the pan – put it in a big bowl
- Pour the liquid into a jug to see how much you have – if you need to, add more water to make up to 6 cups and put it back in the pot.
- Add the sugar to the pot, and let it start to dissolve (off the heat) while you are processing the oranges
- Before you do anything else, pop a side plate into the freezer, or the icebox of your fridge (this will make sense later)
- Now, sit yourself down, put on the radio and get to work on the oranges. You’ll need a bowl lined with the muslin square, a wee sharp knife, a soup spoon, a chopping board and the bowl of oranges
- Cut the oranges in half, and scoop out all the pith and the seeds and the orangey goodness into the muslin lined bowl. Once all the oranginess is in the muslin square, tie it up securely and pop it in the pot of water
- Thinly slice the peel. This will take a bit of time to do properly, so relax and enjoy, it’s a lovely mindless task, almost meditative once you get going
- Add all the sliced peel to the pot. Pop your sugar thermometer into the pot if you have one, if not, don’t worry – you’ll still get good marmalade
- Bring the mixture up to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes
- Add the ginger syrup and the slivers of preserved ginger
- Cook on a fairly quick boil for a further 30 minutes, or until the marmalade has reached setting point. I didn’t boil it hard enough so it took FAR longer than 30 mins. If you’re using the thermometer, just keep boiling till it reaches ‘jam’ but do the cold plate test to make sure it will set.
- The cold plate test – take the plate out of the freezer and drip a blob of marmalade onto it. Leave a few seconds till it’s properly cold and then push it with your finger. If it’s runny, keep boiling. If it sort of wrinkles at the edges, it’s ready. Voila!
- Remove and discard the bag of oranginess.
- Ladle into sterilised jars, seal and label
A note about sterilising jars. You must do this! If you don’t your marmalade could go nasty really quite soon after putting it in the jars. And what would be the point of that?
You can sterilise them by running them through the dishwasher and using them immediately (without putting your icky fingers inside the jar before filling them). Or wash them in hot soapy water, and place them upright in a baking tray, and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes or so. Again, fill them with marmalade before you fill them with ickiness from your fingers.
And another note for you – about soft peel. That’s what marmalade is all about, yeah? How would I know, I never liked the stuff! Anyway, if you want your peel super soft and lovely, then you have to go through the process of cooking the oranges in water BEFORE you add the sugar. If you add the sugar before the skin has softened it will just go tough and your marmalade won’t be so unctuous and delicious.
So, I guess you want to know if it worked, if I now like marmalade? Well what do you think? Would I be able to resist this unctuous bittersweetness in a jar? It’s DELICIOUS! I still don’t know if I like ALL marmalade, but I certainly love this one.
And you do want the recipe for marmalade and apricot muffins don’t you?
- Concerning Marmalade. (backwardslion.wordpress.com)
- Katie Stewart: Marmalade 2013 (realfoodlover.wordpress.com)