Marmalade lovers, if you have only ever eaten shop-bought marmalade, you MUST try making homemade marmalade at least once in your life.
Last Sunday at 7.30pm, I committed myself to an evening of marmalade making so I could enjoy real marmalade on toast (above).
Ingredients and cost
4lbs (1.80kg) Seville oranges
I bought 1.975g of organic Seville oranges for £5.89 at Better Food organic supermarket
4lbs (1.80kg) granulated sugar
I bought the non-organic kind at Scoopaway – 1.990g white sugar @ 1.29kg = £2.57
Would much prefer organic vegetables to be subsidised, rather than sugar.
I weighed out 4 lbs (1.8kg) granulated sugar into a pan, now warming in a low oven.
Warming the sugar makes it easier to melt into the fruit.
I scrubbed the oranges and removed the stalks on each one.
They are now in a preserving pan with 4 pints of boiling water.
I have found a baking tray to cover the pan. The pan hisses.
Katie Stewart says it takes 1.5 hours to soften the oranges.
Katie (whom I once met when she won a Guild of Food Writers Lifetime Achievement Award) says 3lbs of fruit, 6lbs of sugar and 5 pints of water. In my bid for less sugar, I have experimented over the years and now use equal sugar to fruit.
Christabel who works at Better Food suggested adding orange blossom water for extra orange zing.
Very aware of Haiti. Grateful for my life where I can calmly make marmalade. A fellow food blogger, Sabrina Ghayour is organising a Food Lovers fundraiser for Haiti. Please support this event with donations and helping promote it.
9.30pm. I have cut the softened oranges in half and scooped out pith and pips with a teaspoon. Pith and pips (repeat-very-fast) are boiling for 10 minutes in 1 extra pint of water to extract the pectin. Pectin is crucial for helping the jam to set.
After 10 minutes of vigorous boiling, I strain the pith and pips. This takes ages as I can only get a small amount in my small strainer. The pectin-filled water goes into the preserving pan with the cut-up peel and the warmed sugar. I add the juice of two lemons. And its flesh for good luck.
If you don’t have a preserving pan, use your biggest pan or divide amounts into two pans. You need to boil sugar-fruit-water super-vigorously for 15-30 minutes without worrying about it boiling over the sides.
Making up for lost water
The lid on the softening oranges was makeshift and inadequate, and I am paying the price: I lost precious pints in steam. I ended up (after adding strained pith-and-pips water) with 1.5pts in total. I have boldly added an extra 2pts making it up water total to 3.5 pints.
PS A few days later: And it worked! Marmalade as delicious ever.
Boiling fast to set
10.30pm. I have added the sugar to the cut-up peel and water
For some reason Jeanette Winterson is in my head. I am thinking about her organic shop in East London and wondering if she is as driven to write now she has her shop. But perhaps she arrived in my mind because Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.
11.20pm. The marmalade has been fast-boiling for 20 minutes.
I draw it off the heat to test for a set because if you over-boil, it can lose its setting point. Who says cooking is boring? It is full of drama.
Earlier I put two plates in the freezer. I will now drip some hot jam on its cold surface and wait a few minutes. If the cooling jam crinkles when I push it with my finger – then success, it has set.
Then finally – after the second lot of 15 mins of fast boiling, that tell-tale crinkling. Joy.
The marmalade cooled while I set up a Facebook page for Foodlovers Fundraiser for Haiti, a small thing that I could do to help this cause.
12.45am. And here are my 8 pots of marmalade.
It was a palaver but it was worth it.
What do you think?