Sunday, 8 February 2009

Ah Marmalade

Last year we made enough marmalade to last 12 months - it ran out before Christmas. This year it is my intention to make enough marmalade to last a whole year, so we are aiming for 3 batches this time.
Seville Oranges are ready in February, though there are few places in the UK where you can get them. When they are available, they are only around for a couple of weeks. These Oranges have a bitter thick pith and lots of seeds. They are not good eaters, but they make arguably the best marmalade in the world.
The first task is to cut and juice the oranges, then the peel needs cleaning ready for shredding. The pips are needed to provide pectin to set the marmalade. It is the juice that gives the vitamin content and the pith and peel that gives the flavour and colour.
Shredding the peel is the big job. In the absence of a very fine bladed mandolin, the peel has to be shredded by hand. This takes a long time to get a fine cut and the first batch of peal took 4 hours to shred in this way. The third patch was less than 3 hours of shredding. Still - it's only once a year. The water, pips (in a muslin bag) and shredded peel need boiling for an hour or so to reduce and release the pectin and oils.
Then out come the pips and in goes lots of sugar. When the marmalade sample starts to set, the stuff can be potted in jars and cooled to seal the jar lids firmly. When all of the jars have popped, the labels can be added.

We now have 35 jars of marmalade and I estimate we will need at least 30 to see us through to next February. Toasted bread and marmalade make for me the ideal breakfast.

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