Thursday, 29 January 2009
A Test of Nerve & Skill. Or Marmalade, As It's More Commonly Known
I made marmalade for the first time last year, it was a very long-winded and arduous process, and it required several re-boils (is that even a word?) to achieve the setting point, which if you are at all familiar with jam and preserve making, is when it reaches about 106C and turns from a runny liquid into, well, a jam. Which in turn meant several re-sterilising of the jars and plenty stamping of feet. Quite stressful.
So with that experience still fairly fresh in my mind, I bought up my Seville oranges and vowed that this time, there would be very little or no foot stamping and I would get some pleasure from the making and not just from the eating.
Yes, well, that didn't last too long. I had been putting it off I think subconsciously, long enough for a orange or two to go mouldy so yesterday I cut all the peel, I squeezed the juice, tied the pips and pulp into a neat muslin bundle, added extra lemon juice for luck and let it all soak for the rest of the day. I was following this recipe -
www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/25/seville-orange-marmalade-recipe until I saw how much liquid he was suggesting for 12 oranges! So I looked back to the recipe I used last year, and switched my allegiance back quick smart. Good Old Good Housekeeping - I was sorry to even doubt you. So all progressed well, until it comes time to find this elusive setting point. On and on it boiled, until Paul said that it had been doing so for 50 minutes. 50 minutes! Saucer after saucer was chilled in the freezer, spoonfuls of mixture were gently pushed in order to see a slight crinkling. Nothing. Then, what's this? A slight crinkly skin? Yes! A scramble to pot the marmalade broke out, let's get this over with, I thought merrily. A mountain of washing up later, with the newly filled jars cooling their heels outside, I allowed myself a small smile of satisfaction. No, it hadn't been anywhere near as much of a trial as last year.
But this morning, on painful close inspection, the marmalade was not set at all, so I had to tip it all back into the pan, add more pectin in the form of lemon juice and search again for the setting point. Yes, I need a sugar thermometer. But that would've been a very short post with not nearly so many twists.
Here's the end product - we now have 8 jars of glowing amber marmalade (and I have already given one away). So we might just make it through til August. Should've made 12 jars. Hmmm. Maybe next year.