It’s that time of year again when marmalade matters. January’s bleak mid winter days are brightened by the arrival of the fragrant, the unique, the glorious bitter Seville oranges from southern Spain. And so for Marmaladers (marmalade makers), the joyful arrival of these incomparable fruits means there’ll be some steamy and productive kitchen moments in the days ahead. The extraordinary thing about Marmalade is the amount of heartfelt passion (and animosity) it seems to evince among families, friends and makers. Can you believe it, my husband prefers his marmalade to mine!
I first judged at The Marmalade Awards in 2008, and have returned to Dalemain nearly every year since to assist in the judging of The Artisan entries. Whoa, what a task and one that puts me in turmoil until we have agreed on greatest. But let me tell you, it’s not done lightly and each and every jar is given serious consideration by the team of experienced judges. What always astounds me is that no two jars are ever the same which makes for hope and intrigue each time a lid is snapped open. What this has made me realise is just how subjective and personal Marmalade is; thick, thin, soft peels, hard peels, clear, opaque, dark, clear, light, golden, tawny, amber, sticky, set, runny …. we try ’em all! Whereas when it comes to fruity jams these generally tend to be without the vast differences those pots of marmalades lob at us.
The beauty of the bitter orange is it’s thick pithy walls yield the most amazing bitter-sweet fragrance, uplifting flavour and a pack of natural pectin. There is no right nor wrong way to make marmalade, but it is the prowess of the marmalade maker to bring these exceptional qualities together to create a perfect pot of marmalade. Capturing the all important ‘setting point’ is vital to making marmalade. The addition of apples will make the elusive setting point easier to attain whilst making the marmalade fresh, fruitier and a little less sweet. Listen to the rhythm of your marmalade; when the lively fast beat changes to a slower even tempo, this is when your marmalade will set. This is one of my favourite Marmalade recipes using the whole fruit method.
Makes approximately 6 x 450g jars
1kg Seville oranges
1 sweet orange (optional)
100 ml lemon juice
150- 200g sharp cooking apples, peeled and finely grated
2 kg Demerara sugar – for a lighter marmalade use a mix of Demerara and granulated sugar, for a darker, richer marmalade replace with 100g of Demerara with Muscovado sugar.
- Scrub fruit and place in large heavy based pan with 2 litres of water. Place a plate on top of them to keep them immersed. Cover, bring to the boil, then simmer for approximately 2 hours until the orange skins are very tender and you can piece the skins easily with a fork. Set aside to cool.
- Place a nylon sieve over a bowl. Break the softened oranges in half and scoop out the pips and pith and put in the sieve. Using the back of a spoon rub to extract the juice from the pips and pith. Add this to the cooking water (you should have approximately 1.8 litres). Make up with water if less.
- Cut the peel and flesh into shreds as you prefer (thin, medium or thick) and return to the measured cooking liquid with the sieved juice.
- Add the lemon juice and the apple and bring to boiling point. Reduce the heat a little, add the sugar (no need to warm) and stir until completely dissolved.
- Bring to a rolling boil and boil rapidly (15-20 mins) until setting point is reached.
- Remove from heat, allow to rest for 5 minutes before potting up and sealing in sterile jam jars.
MARMALADE AWARDS 2014 – closing date 13th February, 2014