Friday, 1 February 2013

Marmalade


Having made Houmous at home, and decided that shop-bought is actually better, I thought I would change my luck and try my hand at some marmalade. The reason, is that Seville oranges happen to be available at my local Waitrose and knowing that they make the best marmalade and that they are rarely available in supermarkets, I thought I'd give them a go.

One problem: I have no idea what I'm doing.

So, using a little common sense and a load of blind luck; after using my potato ricer (basically a giant garlic press) to extract all of the juice and pulp from the oranges, and mixing in a load of sugar (no idea exactly how much) and boiled it until the mixture was thick and gluey, then it cooled down... Voila, marmalade. I am not kidding. Actual marmalade.

I chose not to make the type with the bits in, (a) because I'm not a fan of the bitter peel; and (b) because clear marmalade is more versatile in other recipes (like cakes etc), in case I found that I didn't like it that much on toast.

So, let's get down to what actually happened:

I bought a kilo of oranges. I cut them open and squeezed them to extract the juice. I found that about a dozen decent sized oranges yielded a measly half cup of juice. So I set to work with the potato ricer to get every last drop of nectar out of the pathetic dry fruits - and knew that I needed some pulp and pith etc to extract 'pectin', the mythical enzyme which turns juice to jelly.

When I guessed how much sugar I would need, I went to my sugar tub in the cupboard and saw it was a third full. So I dumped the whole lot into the saucepan. How much was in there? No idea, but it was about a third of a container that used to hold just under a kilo, so I would say 300g.

Then I boiled the mixture. For how long? Can't remember. But I do know I watched an episode of Iron Chef America while it cooked, which is 40 minutes without the fast-forwarded commercials - which means I cooked the marmalade for 45 minutes, including the time it took to find the episode and the remote control and sit down to watch it.

How did I know when it was done? I didn't. The mixture looked like a fairly runny orange syrup. When I put it into the sterilised kilner jar (by 'sterilising' I mean put into a hot oven for 10 minutes) and then allowed it to cool down, I had no idea if I was the owner of a jar of sweet orange juice or marmalade. I waited an hour or two until the jar was cool and then stuck in a spoon. A REVELATION! The best marmalade ever! Smooth, fruity, sharp/sweet in the right proportions, back notes of toffee. In a word... Marmalade.

Slight problem: A dozen oranges (£2) and 300g of sugar (50p ish) has yielded half a jar of marmalade - which means a whole jar would be a fiver (not including the cost of the jar, which in fairness I will re-use). But so what? The marmalade is home-made, and definitely tastes different to shop-bought, and another victory chalked up to 5% knowledge and 95% good fortune. A perfect ratio.

Do Do Do make your own. I know it's expensive and time consuming and you have to wash up a sticky pan afterwards, but it's so rewarding to know you can make really delicious stuff so easily. The half jar may have set me back £2.50, but at 10p a serving, it's still a Potless bargain.

Makes a half jar (200g approx)

INGREDIENTS

12 Seville oranges
300g granulated sugar

Extract as much juice and pulp from the oranges as you humanly can, and transfer to a heatproof pan together with the sugar. At this stage, you can cut up some of the peel (but none of the bitter pith) and add it to the mixture to make marmalade with bits in. Simmer the mixture on a low to medium heat for 45 minutes. The mixture should be runny but thick. Transfer to a sterilised jar and allow to cool. Spread onto buttered toast or use in cake recipes.


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