Monday, 16 March 2009

making marmelade

I'm never entirely convinced it's worth making homemade conserves. It's quite a lot of effort for a product which is pretty much exactly the same ingredients-wise as a bought version, and I have in the past ended up with rock-hard plum jam that you had to slice, and completely unset fig jam, that I just had to pour all over anything remotely jam-suited in an effort to use it up before it went off.

However, the idea does still appeal. I don't know, there's something just very homely and satisfying about stirring up cauldrons of bubbling fruit, and ending up with cute little gem-coloured jars of produce.

So when I saw Seville Oranges (left) in my local organic shop, I purchased a whole load of them and dug out a marmelade recipe I copied out of the paper a little while back (you can find it here).

First, you boil them up (I was doing half measures of that recipe, so 5-6 oranges in 750ml water). They bob around a bit (top) so you can weigh them down with a plate (left) and after about 20 minutes stab them a bit to encourage them to sink.

After half an hour or so they'll be all soft, so lift them out into a colander (leaving the water in the bowl!) and leave to cool.

Now, you want to scrape the flesh and seeds into a muslin bag (or an old pop sock, which seems perfectly suited to the purpose). I stretched mine over the lip of a jug, which made it all very easy (left).

Then slice the skins to your desired thickness (below left) and empty your sugar (1kg) into the water that's still in the pan (right). It looks like a hell of a lot of sugar, but just think about all the good vitamin C in the oranges!

Then you tie the muslin bag of flesh and seeds to the side of the pan (below right) so it can release all it's flavours and pectin, and heat over a medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved.

And then you can tip all your peel in. Now all you have to do is boil it, stirring occasionally, until it reaches that magical 'setting point'...

In my experience, this always takes longer than they say. I think I boiled this for 30-40 minuites before I decided it was ready. I kept eating all the little blobs of marmelade as I tested them, making myself feel quite sick...

This picture is supposed to show the wrinkles that indicate the setting point, although to be honest you can't really see. Anyway, it wrinkles when you push a teaspoonful that you've dropped onto a cold plate. At that point - hallelujah - you are almost at the end of your journey...

You'll have washed some old jam jars earlier, and set them to dry in a cool oven, so now you can carefully take them out and ladle the hot jam in.

And here is my finished product. I was so excited - 1. it actually set properly! and 2. it tasted delicious! result.

And a final picture just to show you how much I got out of 6 oranges - that's one big jar, three small jars and a little tub of the leftover bits.


Marie said...

Oooh yum. Sounds great.

jess gonacha said...

oh wow, it DOES look like quite the process! but i bet they taste better than store-bought after all that hard work!

LK said...

it does taste good, but I think that's partly because I know I made it!

thanks for being my first (non-sister!) commenter jess! I have just been to visit your blog and it is beautiful! so much lovely stuff...