I am posting this here, even though it was on my own blog last month, as I am off on a Seville Orange hunt today and want to get everyone else in what I feel should be called ‘The Marmalade Mood’.
It feels quite strange to be writing in December about something I made back in February, but I suppose that’s the good thing about preserves; they keep. I’ve actually wanted to write about this marmalade for a long time, but decided to wait until it was nearer Christmas, since I made it in the first place with the intention of giving jars away as presents. And apparently, lemons are now in season, though as you can get them all year round, I don’t really know what that means.
It’s no secret that I love to make food for other people, be it in regular meal-form, or as gifts like this. But although I like cooking very much (oh so very much!), there are a few things that I have always thought were either a waste of time to make yourself, or troublesome in the extreme to do so. Example of the former: pasta; of the latter: jams and marmalades.
Now, I do accept that anything is worth doing if the process is enjoyable and the results worth the time spent; I am sure that one day I will try making pasta and it will be a complete revelation. I’ll probably even spend ages telling you about how wonderfully easy and fantastically delicious it was, and how you should make it too. And maybe you will. But I really, really never thought I’d bother with marmalade. All that faffing about with sterilising jars, using sugar thermometers and setting points – surely only retired old W.I. members had time for that?
Then last year at Christmas, I was given this book and everything changed. This collection of recipes achieves what many would deem impossible; it makes putting things in jars sound exciting. Yes, really. Exciting! And what’s more, it shows that not only is sterilising jars easy, but that you don’t actually need a sugar thermometer at all. For anything!
My enthusiasm must show that I have been converted. I’m not going to go as far as saying that ‘putting up’ is the new going out (though it is tempting to do so. You must admit, it’s a catchy phrase.), but I really do think this is worth making. The vanilla is my own addition. I’m sure it’s not an original one, but it makes the marmalade look stunning, flecked as it is with beautiful black grains, and brings an exotic flavour and fragrance to whatever you add it to. I can recommend it not only for the obvious morning slice of toast, but also spooned into hot bowls of rice pudding or to top porridge.
I really recommend it with porridge.
I have mentioned Pam ‘the Jam’ Corbin, and her recipes before, when we had the glut of vegetables from Mr. Other P’s parents. But I want to mention her again now to say that her book would make a perfect present this Christmas, or any time, for anybody you know who likes to cook. I have enjoyed reading and using it immensely; I’m sure lots of people would. And if you think (quite wrongly) that marmalade is too much of a faff to make as a present, then it’s the next best thing you can give.
Makes 4kg worth
- 1 kg lemons
- 2 kg granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped out and reserved
Top and tail the lemons. In other words, cut the bumps off the ends! Juice them, and then slice the rinds as thinly or thickly as you like. I think thinly is better, but will allow you the freedom to choose.
Put the juice, rinds and 2.5 litres of water into a large bowl, and leave to soak overnight. I don’t know if you really need to do this, but Pam says to and she knows better than me.
Transfer the lemon mixture to a large (LARGE!) pan, and cook gently for a few hours until the lemon rind is soft. The liquid will have reduced by about a third.
Add the sugar. Boil, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then boil rapidly until the setting point (* see note) has been reached. This took about 40 minutes for me, though start checking at 20.
Turn off the heat. Stir through the vanilla seeds, and pour into hot, sterilised jars (* see note). Seal immediately. Use within 2 years
NB: To check for setting point: when you start boiling the jam, put a saucer in the freezer to chill. After boiling for the required time, drop small dribbles of the jam onto the saucer and wait a moment. If, when you poke the puddle of jam with your finger, the surface forms a wrinkle, the setting point has been reached. To sterilise jars, wash them in warm, soapy water, rinse, and dry on a baking sheet in a low oven.
Pink Grapefruit Marmalade
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