Tuesday, 8 February 2011


Well, not really. The world isn't coming to a sticky, orangey, rind-spattered end. But there were moments at the weekend when I thought my kitchen might... New Boy likes marmalade, you see, and being a domestic type and keen to impress I agreed to have a go at making some. From his family recipe.

I've never made any sort of preserve before; all that faffing about with sugar thermometers and vast vats of boiling liquid seemed both too clinical and too risky, and far less fun than baking a cake and playing with icing. But I like a challenge, and we found some Seville oranges (in Waitrose, of course) so had to go for it.

Thankfully, it was a success. I was completely unsure of what the finished product was going to turn out like and, as I don't actually like marmalade, didn't much care as long as it was edible. But apparently it's nice. And it meant I could indulge in kitsch with little marmalade-jar hats:

The recipe, in case anyone is interested:

Dark, Thick Marmalade

1.5 kg Seville oranges
4kg sugar
8pts water
1 lemon

Wash the fruit, cut in half and squeeze. Put the pips and left over white bits and pulp from the squeezing into a muslin bag (or fashion one using a tea-towel and Hard Knots). Cut the rind of the fruit into thick shreds and pop it into an ENORMOUS pan with the water and the juice, and the bag of bits. Boil for about two hours or until it's reduced by a little more than a third.

Remove the bag and give it a squeeze to get all the juice out (note: it will be hotter than the sun, so wear gloves or perform some sort of pincer manoeuvre with spoons). Add the sugar to the pan and let it boil for another one and a half to one and three quarter hours, 'til it's darkened slightly.

Test to see if it's set. Do this by putting a saucer in the freezer 'til it's cold, then dropping a teaspoon full of marmalade onto it. Pop it back in the fridge for a minute and then see if, when you poke it with your finger, it forms a bit of a skin. If it does you're all done, if not it's not going to set. ( I don't know what you do if it won't set. Cry, probably.)

Pour it into jars (these will need to be nice and clean and sterile, and preferably warmed in the oven a little bit first, so they don't crack when you pour the marmalade in). Be very careful as it'll be hot and go everywhere. Theoretically put a little circle of greaseproof paper on the top (I didn't) and screw the lids on quickly. Allow it to cool and, hopefully, set whilst you entertain yourself making little jar-hats.

The most important marmalade making lesson I learnt? Everything will get VERY HOT and also STICKY. Be prepared.

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