Having stumbled across the Marmalade Awards website (here) which is hosted at Dalemain in my home county of Cumbria, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and to make my own marmalade. Having made jam for over 10 years I figured how hard can it be?
A quick trawl of the Internet and my cookery books showed me that there is not much variation in ingredients, but plenty of variation in methodology.
Thanks to the lovely people in Twitterland advising that farm shops were the best source of Seville oranges, I took a quick trip to Fannys Farm Shop in Merstham to pick up 2 kilos of oranges (and indulge in a delicious scone whilst I was there)!
I also found out that they do a marmalade competition. So now I have two competitions to enter!
The recipe I used was 1kg Seville oranges, 2kg sugar and juice of 1 large lemon. Simples no?
Marmalade Number 1 – Thick Cut
My favourite preserving book is River Cottage Preserves by Pam Corbin (try making the sweet pickled damsons – they look a bit odd, but taste amazing!). So I decided follow her method – principally because it didn’t involve fiddling with bits of muslin!
First I washed and cut the oranges in half (removing the green bit at the top) and squeezed them.
I used a wooden fruit reamer and let the pips fall into a sieve.
Then I chopped up the fruit – peel, pith and all. I guess this would be classed as thick peel.
I added the peel to the juice with 2.5 litres of water and left it to soak overnight.
The next day I boiled it for about an hour and a half until the peel was soft. Then added 2kg of Demerara sugar and the lemon juice, and slowly heated it until the sugar dissolved.
Then heated it to a rolling boil until it reached setting point. This is supposed to be 105 degrees centigrade. Not that I would know as my jam thermometer is rubbish! I use the plate in the freezer approach, and occasional teaspoons of marmalade to test for set.
I filled half my jars and then added 25ml of Amaretto to the rest of the marmalade in the pan. Having tasted it, the amount of Amaretto was too small as the marmalade is very strong tasting so you can’t really taste the Amaretto.
So…..Ta da…. Here is the finished product. It tastes absolutely amazing. Bitter and sweet all at the same time.
Marmalade Number 2 – Thin Cut
Having made some thick cut marmalade I wanted to have a go at competition standard thin cut. According to lots of recipes I could do the same as the thick cut but just shred it finer. But I thought It would be difficult to get the peel very fine so I found a different method, which I will outline below.
This time I peeled the oranges with a potato peeler, leaving as much pith on the orange as possible.
Then I shredded the peel finely (it took forever – I did it in front of TV on Saturday night!).
I then laid a piece of muslin (50cm square, though I would recommend larger) over a bowl and squeezed the oranges into it, dropping the pips and discarded outlets into the muslin.
I put the shredded peel, squeezed juice and 2.5 litres of water into a bowl and added the pith and peel that I had knotted into the muslin.
I then put a plate over the top to push down the muslin (and keep it under the water), and weighed it down with tins and jars. I left this overnight to soak.
The next day I boiled it for about 90 minutes to soften the peel, and then squeezed the muslin into the pan to get all of the pectin out. Then I added 2kg of white sugar and the lemon juice, heated gently until it was dissolved and then boiled it at a rolling boil.
And this is where something went wrong. For some reason the marmalade never really set, and what I have ended up with is really delicious tasting marmalade syrup!
I’m assuming it was something to do with not extracting enough pectin from the pith, but I’m not 100% sure. Some recipes treat the lemon the same as the oranges. Maybe that would boost the pectin levels. Advice would be most gratefully accepted.
I will let you know how I get in in the competitions. Obviously I will be entering the thick cut version!
Oh and see if you can spot the deliberate mistake on the labels!!