LOVE MARMALADE

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What do you do when you have an abundance of oranges in the house and a Saturday morning to kill?

Christened ‘Love Marmalade’ – it certainly was a labour, but of the sticky, delicious, giggly variety. Here’s the recipe we loosely worked from, loosely meaning we talked about it for a week, then eventually halved and gutted and sliced the oranges, left them on the doorstep all day, took them to work to a busy restaurant in the evening and I boiled it off in a brief service hiatus on a Saturday night – complete with a set of whites, a butchers stripe apron, and three different spoons dropped into the pan. I recommend you make it all in one hit, without trying to squeeze in a 70th birthday party in the country and a busy restaurant shift in between. Eventually bottled at half past two in the morning – but oh, so worth it.

Granny Annie’s Dark Chunky Marmalade, from “Big Table, Busy Kitchen” by Allegra McEvedy.

Makes about 7-9 jars, apparently.

1.5kg Seville oranges
2 lemons
2.7kg sugar (ALL the sugar in the house – we rooted around and made it up from granulated, caster, golden and soft brown….)
1 tbsp black treacle

You will also need:
1 piece of muslin, about 50cm square (doubled over if it’s the very flimsy kind)
Waxed paper or grease proof paper, cut into circles to fit inside the jars.

Scrub the oranges and lemons under warm water and pick off the green stalk at the top.

Choose your marmalade-making saucepan. It needs to be pretty big, about a 7-8 litre capacity to allow for bubbling up, then drape the piece of muslin over the top of it.

Cut the oranges and lemons in half around the equator, as you would for juicing, and squeeze them into the pan through the muslin.

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Now find yourself a shallow-bowled dessert spoon – you’re going to use it for digging, so preferably one with a slightly pointy end. Holding a half orange in one hand and the spoon in the other, dig out all the pith, pulp and membrane until the inside of the fruit is smooth and white, and let this fall into the muslin. Do the same with the other oranges and lemons.

Twist up the muslin so all the gubbins is inside it and tie to the pan handle – loosely enough that it sits on the bottom of the pan but tightly enough that it won’t unravel.

Then use a really sharp knife to slice the rind of the oranges and lemons into thin-ish matchsticks and tip them into the pan.

Pour in 3.4 litres of cold water, then Annie always leaves it for an overnight soak and soften at this stage (though when prodded she admitted that this wasn’t obligatory, it was just to spread the work over two days).

Whenever you’re ready, pop a couple of saucers in the fridge for testing later, and bring the contents of the saucepan to the boil, then turn down to a busy simmer. You need it to reduce by a third over about two hours, so if it’s happening too fast or too slowly, just adjust the heat. Don’t rush this step as once you add sugar the skins will toughen, so it’s crucial that they are tender enough before moving on.

Still working on the heat, lift the muslin bag out of the liquid, then use a slotted spoon to squeeze the life out of it against the side of the pan, scraping the jelly-like goo off the muslin with a spoon and dropping it back into the pan. This step is vital as it’s where most of the pectin comes from that will set your marmalade, so don’t skimp on the muscle – it may take a good five minutes (it’s surprisingly satisfying, not to mention beautiful, watching it ooze through the pores of the fabric). Once you’ve ditched the contents you can give the muslin a good rinse, wash it and use again next year.

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Pour the sugar and treacle into the pan and stir until it’s all dissolved – feel the bottom of the pan for any granular bits and don’t go on to the next step until you are sure that ALL of the sugar has melted. Now turn the heat up to an impressive rolling boil – be careful as it will rise up the pan in a Vesuvian way, and the contents will be about as hot, too! From when it’s at the ferociously bubbling molten lava stage give it 20 minutes with no skimming, but stir occasionally so the pieces of orange don’t catch on the bottom. During this time it will rise right up the pan, doubling in size, and if you’ve got a sugar thermometer you want it to hit the ‘jam’ mark, which is 105C.

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Meanwhile, heat the oven to 140C. Put your jam jars and lids in the oven for 15 minutes or so – you need them to be a bit too hot to handle when the marmalade goes in.

Get a saucer out of the fridge and drop half a teaspoon of marmalade on to it. Let it cool for less than a minute then push your finger into the little pool and lift it up a centimetre: this is all about checking that it’s at the right viscosity for setting. What you’re looking for is a wrinkling on the surface as you push your finger into it and lift your finger up a centimetre – the marmalade should stay in contact with your finger.

From the point when it’s had the 20 minutes of hard boiling, check it for these signs every couple of minutes on a new bit of cold saucer – it will happen pretty quickly, but can take up to half an hour of boiling.

Once you’re happy, take it off the heat, and leave to cool for about 20 minutes, using this time to give it a good careful skim. The marmalade needs to firm up a bit before you put it in the jars so that the pieces of orange will be suspended, as opposed to sinking to the bottom.

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Give it a quick stir and then ladle the marmalade into a jug – much easier for tidy pouring. I suggest doing one jar first and leaving for a minute to see how she settles. When you’re happy with your orange dispersion, fill the jars right up so there’s minimal space for air in there. Immediately pop the wax paper circles right on to the surface of the marmalade to prevent contact with the outside world (air = bugs = mouldy marmalade). Leave to cool completely with the lids off, preferably overnight, and then screw the lids on tight. The marmalade’s good to go straight away, but hide those for later in a cool, dark place.

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From “Big Table, Busy Kitchen” by Allegra McEvedy, recipe reproduced with permission.

Jack Monroe (Twitter: @MsJackMonroe) & Allegra McEvedy (Twitter: @AllegraMcEvedy).

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38 Comments »

  1. That looks great. well done for persevering in the face of too much else to do! I made apple marmalade last autumn after having several carrier bags of apples donated to me and realising there was only so much apple crumble I could make. A quick Internet search, some tweaking and produced amazingly delicious chunky apple marmalade. Worth a try.

  2. My friend makes wonderful marmalade but has found difficulties this year in getting Seville Oranges. We’ve been keeping an eye open for the oranges for weeks but no sign of them. Have they only just come into season?

  3. I made marmarlade this year and it was the devils own job to set not sure what I did wrong but it sort of set after letting it cool and adding more lemon juice, Tastes nice though. Will have another go next year. Love the book by the way.

    • Try testing for pectin before you boil it up. Teaspoon of meths and a teaspoon of the liquid should clot. My first batch this year (a dark bitter ‘Oxford’ style) was reluctant. I put more work into squeezing out the innards with the next (golden, light) batch.

  4. It looks soooo delicious…I’ve made Marmelade before, I know how much work it is, but it is so worth it…..alas my kitchen and utensils are a bit lacking these days….Bravo to you for tackling it!

  5. Being able to make jam, marmalade, pickle or whatever from any abundances you come by for nothing or next to nothing is a valuable life skill, that cheers up a low income no end 🙂 So you’ve got home made bread and marmalade Jack, show them how to make butter in a food processor* from some marked down cream!!! I’ve been picking up double cream, after Xmas usually, when its marked down to pennies, converting it to butter and freezing it. You will not believe how much butter there is in a large tub of cream, and the buttermilk that comes off makes great scones or pancakes, so nothing is wasted!

    * you can do it by hand but a machine makes it the work of moments!

    • I agree Kate, making preserves is such a wonderful life skill that saves money no end. I make my bread too, and funnily enough made some grapefruit marmalade on Saturday arvo. Hopped on here and saw Jack had made some too. Awesome stuff. Made mine from frozen grapefruit stored from my trees crop from last year. I also have a heap of stone fruit frozen in the chest freezer that I pick up for next to nicks at my local woollies from their $3 fillabag. So jam making here I come. I make jam from whatever is in the freezer and what doesn’t become jam, becomes cakes and biccies. Next time I see marked down cream will have a go at making butter. And yes the buttermilk will be great for baking. These skills go a long way. Have been honing them for a few years now and have come in very handy since hubby made redundant 3.5 months ago. Home made goodies guaranteed to put a smile on ya dial.

      • My acquired life skills in the kitchen as a SAHM when my kids were small came in very handy, they’ve ended up being what I do for a living. I now have a food stall in local producers market!!! I make cake, lots of gluten free treats and veggie food for a my stall in the market, and do some event catering. Who’d have thought it LOL!

  6. I love making home made marmalade. I made some a few weeks ago using blood oranges, standard oranges, grapefruit and lemons. It does taste different to shop bought and have 3 jars left, originally made 6. Looks like another batch is due soon. Sara – your apple marmalade sounds yummy.

  7. This sounds lovely, but I’m afraid I cheat and buy one of those marmalade kit tins. The fruit is all prepared and you just bring to a boil and add the sugar and any extra you want. Still makes much nicer marmalade than you can buy in the shops though and SO much cheaper.

    • I also usually always use the tins, plus a lemon and a grapefruit. Have done for years with great success. Used real Sevilles this year due to an abundance at Waitrose being marked down to 29p per kg – tastes lovely but God, so messy and so much work. Never again – tins again for me.

  8. Wow! Allegra and Jack combination – wonderful thank you both – loved the clear detail and colour and the photos – never knew why the goo was so important now I do – confidence inducing thanks!

  9. Oranges – green grocers are your best option for Sevilles for sure – and Asian supermarkets too which we have a few of in Oxford luckily – thinking of getting a making posse of young and old in a community kitchen together to get over the space issue Maureen!

  10. I’m actually standing over a batch of marmalade as I read this blog. I do the ‘poach whole’ method. I think it’s easier to manage.

  11. Thanks Jack! I’ve been meaning to make marmalade for weeks now and the email with a link to it popped into my inbox as if it was divine intervention/ a prompt. It’s bubbling away now.

  12. When making jam or Marmalade I never bother with the circles of paper in the jars, just sterilize the jars and lids and fill to the brim, put the lids on and turn them upside down until cooled, it forms its own seal

  13. I cook my oranges first whole in a pressure cooker. Strain, boil the juice with the pips, then combine juice sugar and the oranges which you have sliced so quickly because they were so soft, boil and set! V easy….

  14. I can heartily recommend a very clean jam funnel for things like this. We’ve also found they’re really useful for transferring soup to a thermos, to bring for lunch or tea.

  15. You are a more patient woman than I am! I just quarter the fruit, chuck it in the pressure cooker and cook until soft, then whizz in the food processor then cook the mush with sugar until it sets. It does not have the pretty marmaladey look but it tastes ok and I use up any old citrus kicking about in the fruit bowl or the fridge! I have made proper marmalade before but somehow I have come to prefer the mushy variety!

  16. Can’t figure from this one if the someone special = Allegra McEvedy. Please let it be! I want you to become a power couple and turn the cooking worlds upside down! Imagine the joint guardian photoshoots!
    Not that it’s any of my business! Really glad you’re happy 🙂

    Ps not expecting you to publish this comment!

  17. Ps the river cottage cookbook on preserves is amazing – highly recommend. It also says there’s no need to do the muslin thing – mine always comes out fine, for what it’s worth.

  18. My great Aunt’s recipe for marmalade is a little less messy. Take 6 seville oranges, 1 lemon and 1 sweet orange. Cut in quarters and soak in 6 or 7 pints of water – either overnight or until convenient. Boil the oranges until soft – leave the lid of which will reduce the amount of water. Cool. Slice the fruit into thin strips, removing the pips as you do so. Return fruit and water to the pan. Add about 2 kg of jam sugar. Stir and bring to boil. Boil until the setting point is reached and put in jars.
    As a variation you can add two or three red chillies to the mix at the boiling stage.

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