Monday, 10 February 2014
As predicted, it was yet another wet weekend :-( Oh when will this rain stop? And the wind! Talk about blowing a hooly!!
Saturday was surprisingly busy, but alas, Sunday was wet, wet, wet. The boys decided to slink off to the cinema - but luckily, I was prepared this time! I had assembled the necessary ingredients for marmalade making earlier in the week, just in case!
As you may know, the Seville oranges necessary for making marmalade are only available for 2 or 3 weeks from the end of January. Goodness knows why this is the case these days, when you think how long they keep apples in cold storage. However. Don't bother going to Tesco or a supermarket in search of Seville oranges as they probably will not have them - speaks one who found out the hard way. By contrast, my lovely local greengrocer had a whole stack of them and they were going fast.
I used Delia Smith's recipe (available online) which really could not be easier. 2lbs of oranges, 1 lemon and 4lbs golden granulated sugar - again, not easily found, but I did manage to dig out a couple of bags from the back of the shelf in Tesco. The only other thing required is water - and time.
First, squeeze the oranges and lemon and add to the 2 litres of water in your large pan.
Put all the pips and pith in a muslin bag.
Quarter and slice up your skins.
Put into the pan, along with your muslin bag which you have tied up with string and then tied to the pan handle (or you could put a wooden spoon across the pan and hang it from that). Then you need to boil all this for 2 hours or so, until the peel is soft to the squeeze.
Then you add your 2 bags of sugar and stir it until dissolved and then whack it up to a rolling boil for 15 minutes. Next comes the only really tricky part of this whole process - trying to decide whether you have a "set" or not. To do this, put a saucer in the fridge to cool it down and then after your 15 minutes of boiling, plop some onto the saucer and whack it back in the fridge until it's cold. Then you basically get your finger and push it against the marmalade to see if there is a sort of crinkly skin. If there is - bingo - you have a set and you can take it off the boil. If not, continue to boil and check every 5-10 minutes for a set.
Once off the boil you will see a sort of white scum on the top of the marmalade. To get rid of this simply stir in a knob of butter. Then let it settle for about 15-20 minutes whilst you sterilise your jars in a warm oven (for about 5 minutes - you don't want them too hot to handle!). Then get a funnel, or spoon the marmalade into the jars.
This recipe should give you 6lbs (i.e. 6 normal size jars) but I got 5, as my 5th jar was a Mason jar. Then you can sit back, relax and spend some time with your loved one.
Not a bad day's work, if you ask me :-)