I spent a rejuvenating weekend in what will one day be our home – the Nilgiris. A window of sunshine allowed us to pluck ‘marmalade oranges’. I brought home 8 big globes determined to try my hand at making marmalade. I surprised myself
According to a survey in Britain, marmalade is going out of fashion: sales have dropped. The Brits consumed 1.6% fewer jars of the stuff in 2013 than the year before, while at the same time honey and chocolate spread sales went through the roof. But I love this bitter-sweet, chunky, jammy spread on hot buttered toast- it has an air of sophistication, it suits a sunny day or a cold wet one. Winston Churchill loved his marmalade (also had a marmalade cat named Jock). In 1915, he wrote to his wife, Clementine, from the trenches in France describing a recent attack: ‘We hastily seized our eggs and bacon, bread and marmalade and took refuge.’ Good food was at the forefront of his mind in the most dangerous circumstances.
To the marmalade recipe:
The best video I found on making marmalade is here:
My recipe follows the same as the video using 8 large oranges. Peel the oranges with a knife. Chop the peels lengthwise in to 3mm strips (if you like it chunky) Place a muslin cloth over a bowl. Cut the oranges in half and squeeze the juice out in to the muslin cloth and put in the pith and flesh in to the cloth. The pith and flesh is what contains pectin – required to set jam. Tie the muslin cloth (with pith and flesh inside) in to a bag, tied with some string. Choose a large saucepan. Put in the chopped peels, the tied muslin cloth and the juice from the bowl. Add 2.5 litres of cold water. Simmer for 2hours till the peels are soft. Remove the muslin bag and try to squeeze out as much juice from the bag as possible. It’ll be very hot so I put the bag over a strainer with a bowl beneath and using a spoon, press the muslin bag to get as much juice (ie. the home of pectin) out and add to the saucepan.
Once you’ve squeezed out as much as you can from the muslin bag, measure the liquid in the saucepan – should be about 1.7 litre You need to add 450gms of granulated sugar for every 1/2 litre of liquid. Add the sugar to the saucepan and heat very gently till sugar dissolves. After the sugar dissolves you can boil vigorously till it reaches setting point – about 5o mins. To test the setting point, place a steel plate in the freezer. When the surface is cold, drop a little bit of the liquid from the saucepan on to the plate. Push the surface of the blob with your finger – if a skin forms on the surface, you’ve reached setting point and you can turn off the heat. Steralize your jars: Place jam jars either in a 140 degree C over for ten mins. Or boil the jars and lids in a saucepan of water. Allow the jam to cool for 15 mins, give it a stir so that the chunks aren’t all at the bottom and then fill your jars. Remember hot jars for hot liquids. Allow to come to room temperature and then put the lids on. To avoid the pitfalls of making marmalade: – always choose a LARGE saucepan; – after adding sugar do not heat too vigorously or the sugar will burn. – keep testing the marmalade to see if it has reached setting point. If it goes past setting point, it will be a hard lump in your jars. Safe to say – the best marmalade I’ve ever tasted!