Thursday, 2 February 2012

It's February and it's fantastic!

Hurrah! it really feels like the days really are getting longer now.  The first snowdrops have appeared in the garden and with the nice (cold but not too cold and no snow!) winter we are having we've managed to get on with quite a few jobs around the garden.  Including completely clearing out our greenhouse and managing to lay slabs completely covering the ground inside it too, this means we will just use the deep beds inside the polytunnel for growing beans etc in and use the greenhouse for stuff in containers and seeds etc.

I'm making marmalade, again, I make my own every year.  I love when we get Seville oranges in the shops, their gorgeous smell of sunshine and Spain really lift my spirits.  This recipe is from a very old book I have called the Complete Book of Home Preserves - by Jill Nice and the Woman's Institute.  The recipes in it never fail and if you grow a lot of your own soft fruit, tomatoes etc it's well worth seeing if you can get hold of a copy, I really recommend it!

Not quite marmalade yet!

Seville Orange Marmalade

1 kg Seville oranges
1 lemon
2 kg white sugar
4 pints water

(8 or 9 hot, dry, sterilized jam jars - I wash mine in the dishwasher then pop them in the bottom oven of my Aga and take them out just before filling)

Wash all the fruit, using a large dish or bowl slice the fruit up thinly, or chunkily (depending on how you like your marmalade - as you can see mine is pretty random, I like the chunks!).  Collect all the pips and tie them into a muslin bag or pop them in a spice ball/strainer (what I do).  Put the pips, fruit and water in a large bowl, cover and leave to stand for 24 hours (as above). 

When ready to make, transfer the soaked fruit etc to a preserving/jam pam and simmer gently until you have reduced the contents by half (the peel should be soft and transparent by now).  Meanwhile put your sugar in a dish and warm it through (I put mine in the bottom Aga oven).  Once the contents are reduced add the warmed sugar and stir until it is dissolved.  Now bring the marmalade back to boil and boil hard until you have obtained a set. I start testing after 5 minutes, I put a pile of saucers in my freezer, if I think the marmalade is almost set I take a saucer out, (take the marmalade off the heat while you are doing this) pour a spoonful of marmalade on the saucer and after about 30 seconds if you can push a clean finger through the marmalade and it leaves a gap then it is done.

Take the marmalade off the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes before potting (this stops all the peel sinking to the bottom of the jars).  I use a soup ladle and a jam funnel as I'm very clumsy when it comes to this sort of thing and have ended up with marmalade everywhere before!

This recipe gives a dark, chunky marmalade which has that background bitterness which I love, if you want to pep it up a wee bit try adding 2 tablespoons of whisky to the marmalade just before removing from the boil and stir well - I suppose you could use Brandy or Rum too, but I like whisky so Whisky Marmalade it is for me.


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