Sunday, 13 November 2011

Ooh la la- 4 fruit marmalade

Occasionally, I get wild, untamed urges to make things. A lot of the time, I just have to ignore them, especially when they are the urge to make the following things: babies, killdozers, tree-houses, anything with rhinestones on. But sometimes I just give in, and get sticky. That's what happened this weekend.

I can't give you the recipe because it's from an old Good Housekeeping book, but I can give you the general gist of how to make marmalade. There are various recipes online, so pick one, follow it and go for it!

In terms of equipment you will need: a large saucepan, wooden spoon, chopping board, sharp knife, cloth for pith bag, wide metal funnel, jars with lids, saucers/side plates.

Here are my ingredients:

Organic limes, organic lemons, sweet oranges, one red grapefruit and one white grapefruit, 5kg bag of British sugar-beet sugar. I didn't know which kind of grapefruit to get.

The oranges, limes and lemons get juiced and the juice gets put in the pan. Any pips need to go in your pith bag (a square of muslin for pith and pips. I used a square of net curtain). You can chop up the peel in a food processor, or slice it finely by hand which it what I chose to do because I hate wrestling with kitchen tech.

As for the grapefruits...

I had no idea they have so much pith! To be honest, I have very little experience of grapefruit. E.g no experience. Anyway, peel the grapefruit and put it to one side, then try and slice as much pith off the peel. Pith goes in the pith bag!

Then claw as much pith as you can off the fruit, along with any stringy bits or pips. Fingernails help. Roughly chop up the flesh. Red grapefruit looks disturbingly like sashimi when it's been butchered.

Chuck everything in the pan and tie up the pith bag (I used a clean rubber band).

And then add how ever much water your recipe calls for.

And simmer away for 1.5 to 2 hours, until the liquid has reduced by half. It smells amazing. Time to weigh out the sugar, I used my mum's old school scales because the digital ones aren't great with large weights.

It was enough sugar to fill our largest pyrex bowl. Put the sugar with the jars and lids to warm in the oven, at about 110°c, about half an hour before your mix is ready. Put a stack of side plates or saucers in the fridge.

Remove your pith bag and give it a really good squeeze over the pan to get as much pectin as you can out and discard it (if you used a natural cloth and string, it can go straight to compost). Okay, now you add the sugar and stir really well to make sure it's all dissolved. Bring to the boil and leave simmering for 20 minutes. 

Now we do our sampling. Take a cold saucer out from the fridge, spoon a little mix onto it and put it back in the fridge for a couple of minutes. Take it out, and drag your finger across it. If it wrinkles nicely, then it's ready to go. If it pools instead of wrinkling, then it's not ready. Here's mine ready to go:

Take the pan off the heat and leave it to sit for 15 minutes. Then take your jars and lids out of the oven and put them somewhere stable. Using your funnel, fill your jars as full as you can and put on the lids. It's hot. It splashes. Take your time and ignore the awful sensation of scalding marmalade leaving its mark on your forehead.

Naturally, the peel didn't behave and chose to float to the top instead. So there you go, semi-organic, British, artisan 4 (technically 5) fruit marmalade.

Ooh la la indeed.

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