Tuesday, 28 January 2014

January Seville Marmalade

I have always relied on my mum to make delicious marmalade, but I thought it was about time I attempted my own. It's safe to say now that it's not as easy as it looks! Don't expect it to be the same process as other jams, it's a tedious and long journey...but so worth it in the end. If it's your first time (like me), don't rush it, or the marmalade won't set properly. I'm not going to lie, that's what happened to this batch - it wasn't fun! I will now cherish every pot of homemade marmalade like it's gold. I owe this post to my wonderful mother for teaching me the ways of marmalade making.

Ingredients (makes roughly 6 odd sized jars)

- 1kg seville oranges
- 3 large lemons (100g each)
- 2.3kg cold water (equal quantity of water to fruit)
- 2.6kg granulated sugar (double the quantity of fruit)
- 6-8 suitable jam jars, clean and hot
- jam jar wax discs
- cellophane jam pot covers and elastic bands or jam jar lids

1. Start by turning on the oven to 130°c for your clean jam jars later. Place the oranges and lemons into a large pressure cooker (preferably stainless steel). Cover the fruit with the measured water and place on the hob on a high heat with the lid on. When the steam vent starts spinning round, turn the heat down to very low and simmer for 10 minutes. Take it off the heat after 10 minutes and spoon out the fruit, preserving the citrus flavoured water.

2. Now for the tedious process of dealing with the fruit. Start by cutting each piece of fruit in half and spooning out the middle. Put the middle pulp into a sieve on top of a measuring jug or bowl and place the skins aside into another bowl. Gradually pulverize the pulp through the sieve using a spoon, until you've got all the juice out, and then throw away the contents of the sieve. Continue this process until you have dealt with all the fruit.

3. Before you go any further, you need to put your clean jam jars (N.B. these can be made clean in the dishwasher) in the preheated oven to warm up. It's time to cut up the fruit skins into small pieces or to your desired size. Some people use a mixer to cut up their orange peel, but mum has always advised me to do it by hand.

4. Measure out the fruit pulp and top it up with the fruity water until it measures the right amount (equal quantity of water to original fruit - in this case 2.3kg).

5. Pour the pulp, fruit water, orange peel pieces and sugar back into your large pressure cooker. Heat the ingredients slowly on a low heat (without the lid) until the sugar is dissolved, and then turn the heat to full. 

6. Cook the marmalade on high, stirring frequently so that it doesn't stick to the bottom, for about 20-25 minutes after it starts bubbling. Make sure you don't try to take it off before it's set, otherwise you'll have to re-cook it all! To see if it's properly set, stick a wooden spoon in and lift it up so you can see it drip. The very last drip should start to drip but rest half dropped. You should be able to waggle the spoon without the half drip dropping off. The marmalade should also be darker in colour than at the beginning. If you're like my uncle, who likes his marmalade very dark, just cook it for longer.

7. Take the jam jars out of the oven, and remember to be wary, as they're very hot! Carefully pour your marmalade into a plastic measuring jug so it's easy to pour into the jam jars. Make sure you do this slowly, or it might splatter everywhere. 

8. Now you can pour the marmalade into the hot jam jars. Make sure you fill each jar to the top, otherwise it'll go off rather quickly. It's inevitably going to spill a bit, so have a wet cloth nearby to clean the jar sides. 

9. It is important to cover your marmalade jars as soon as possible. Place suitable sized wax discs on top of the marmalade. If you're using jam jar lids, make sure they are clean and dry, and screw them on tightly. If you're using cellophane jam pot covers, wet them one at a time, individually with a cloth before stretching them over each jar. Use a rubber band to secure them and pull the cellophane tight to form a flat lid. 

You can either leave your marmalade pretty and natural, cover the lids with round pieces of material, or make special labels.

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