Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Marmalade made simple

After last year's Marmalade mayhem and a catalogue of other runny disasters (including yogurt and fudge) well documented on this blog, I wasn't sure whether I would bother with marmalade-making this year. 

But after using up some of said runny marmalade in a Marmalade Cake recently, three weeks ago I decided I would enter once more into the fray. 


And bingo, the marmalade set perfectly! I abandoned Nigel Slater's recipe which I used last time (although he writes so beautifully about making marmalade) and took up with Dan Lepard from the Guardian and his recipe. It soon became apparent that he was looking for a marmalade maker with a maths degree, so I'm afraid I dumped him too. All that talk of ratios and straining and measuring the cooked juice was too complex for me. I'm a simple soul. Or maybe I'm just a lazy cook who is not very good at following recipes.

So, mostly for my own future reference, here is how I did it, taking Dan's advice into consideration (but simplifying the maths):


1. Weigh the oranges. I used traditional Seville oranges, but now I think I've cracked marmalade making I intend to use the same principles to make some more with other citrus fruits.

2. Squeeze them and put the pips and any stray bits of pith in a small bowl. Pour water into the bowl to just cover the pips and then cover the bowl.

3. Chop the oranges into shreds as thick or thin as you like. Put the shreds and orange juice in a pan and again, pour enough water into the pan to just cover the whole lot. At no point did I measure any liquid; I made sure that the shreds were just about covered and no more. (Last year I think I ended up with too much liquid which is why it didn't set).

4. Leave the shreds and the bowl of pips overnight. Also put some saucers in the freezer ready for testing whether the marmalade has set.

5. Next day, take the pips and tie them into a jam muslin. This is then dunked into the pan of shreds. 

6. Simmer the whole lot for a couple of hours or more until the shreds are soft.

7. Now add at least the same amount of sugar as the weight of the uncooked oranges. For me this was three pounds which worked out as a bag and a half of sugar so I chucked in the other half of the bag (another pound) for good measure (for the mathematically minded I think that makes the ratio of oranges to sugar, 1:1.25). (At this point I deviate from Dan's recipe in that he says preserving sugar isn't necessary. I wasn't leaving anything to chance and definitely did use preserving sugar).






9. Stir the sugar in with the oranges and simmer until the sugar is dissolved and then boil really vigorously for ten minutes or so. 












10. See if the marmalade has reached setting point by spooning some onto the previously frozen saucers.








11. If it hasn't set, don't be afraid to keep boiling it to hell, until it does.

12. While all this was going on, the clean jars were sterilising in the oven on a low heat (gas mark 1) for twenty minutes.

13. When the marmalade is finally setting, pour into the sterilised jars and put the lids on. Leave to cool. My three pounds of Seville oranges made 10 small to medium sized jars of marmalade.
The whole exercise could be seen as a time-consuming and sticky, messy palaver (I always end up dripping marmalade all over the place). And I noticed this week that Aldi are selling marmalade for 23p a jar (I'm sure my marmalade can't match that price). But making your own marmalade is life enriching! If you slow down and enjoy it, it's well worth the time and effort and when it comes to needing a small gift, you can never go wrong with a jar of home-made preserve (whereas a jar of Aldi's best might not be so well appreciated) - four of my jars have already gone down this route. Time to make some more!

14 comments:

  1. I was hopping about in blogland and came across a comment on your "About Everyday life on a shoestring" page from Phil Rooksby about the sad death of his wife Maureen in November. She was only 56. Did you know him? I came across info on his first self published book way, way back when they lived in Yorkshire and contacted him to get that and his following book. I still have the books, they went right back to basics.

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    1. No I didn't know him. I read the comment and wasn't quite sure how to take it forward...(any ideas?) I'd never heard of the Rooksbys before.

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  2. Love the recipe and process of choosing a decent recipe that wold work. Particularly like the boil it to hell till it complies instruction.

    Re: Aldi marmalade - I had a jar of their dark marmalade that I could neither bear to use or throw out as it was so strong and unpleasantly bitter that I would relieve you of your tooth enamel. A week or two ago my neighbour brought me a jar of home made and I lobbed the Aldi stuff out pronto as this homemade was delicious.

    Ps Marmalade cake???? Thought it was orange drizzle! Ps how are you going to sell the set stuff in the jars to the family?

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    1. Well, they guessed the secret ingredient of the 'drizzle' cake in the end. It seems marmalade is more palatable in a cake than neat, unless you're my daughter who decided she didn't like orange drizzle cake after all. Nobody here will eat marmalade -set or runny-apart from me, so all the more for me and my not here family (my Mum, Dad, Brother and Sister, who all like marmalade) and friends who will get it for gifts (whether they like it or not!) !!

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  3. Well done, Sarah! I'm sure your homemade marmalade is much more delicious than any shop-bought.

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    1. Did you make marmalade this year Lili? I haven't spotted it on the blog.

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    2. Not this year, Sarah. Oranges were in short supply at our house this winter. I did have plentiful wild-picked blackberries and home-grown plums, so I made a lot of jam last summer. We still have a good share of that to use up.

      I am looking forward to discovering what this summer brings. Will we have an abundance of raspberries, or blueberries, or cherries for preserves and jam? Or will it be a year of crabapple and red currant jelly? Every year is different.

      You mentioned moving on to other citrus marmalades. I have a good friend who has been making lemon marmalade the past few years, and loves it!

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  4. Looks delicious!
    I make marmalade by boiling the whole oranges first (a la Nigella, amongst others) which makes the chopping much easier. She also eschews any straining or dripping through muslin!
    How about marmalade ice cream next? If the fat content is high enough (use (double) cream rather than a custard base) it won't need a machine or whipping once half frozen.

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    1. I did breeze past Nigella's recipe in my internet trawl. I invested in a jam muslin last year, and surprised myself by being able to locate it again this year, but it's nice to know of a recipe that doesn't call for a muslin, ready for when I lose it. Marmalade icecream sounds yummy...

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  5. What is preserving sugar? Is it just ground finer?

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    1. I think it has added pectin. I had a brief vision that maybe I would end up with marmalade that set rock solid due to too much pectin, however owing to my runny tendancies I don't think this will ever be a problem.

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  6. I use special Jam Making Sugar, and the process is very simple. In fact one boils for a maximum of 5 mins, or it refuses to set. Works every time!

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    1. Yes I'm completely converted to preserving or jam making sugar and am hoping that will be an end to my runny jam escapades!

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  7. I love marmalade - made it once properly and once runny! I was surprised when I visited the UK and saw so many brands of marmalade without the citrus peel. I thought that was the whole point of marmalade! I like it stirred into my yogurt.

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