Friday, January 18, 2008

Marmalade – a long cut

I usually avoid any recipe that tells me its method is easy. Easy generally means short cuts; easy like as not means dried, packaged, microwaved, deep frozen and processed; garlic granules, tinned potatoes, frozen mixed veg are easy, and none of them improve a meal.

For years I have used the same old marmalade recipe, and now the page is so stained it is becoming impossible to read, so I looked for an alternative. I don’t want to make a different marmalade – I want to stick to my favourite dark coarse cut – and I don’t want grapefruit or ginger or whisky in it, but I’m prepared to try another method, just this once. Very rarely does easy offer a genuine benefit by suggesting a long rather than a short cut, but this marmalade recipe, from the blessed Delia Smith, does exactly that.

The fragrance of the house during marmalade making is a once a year pleasure, as are, I suppose, the windows streaming with condensation and the general chaos of pips and fruit and stickiness. But it does take quite a long time, and you do need to pay attention. Start it in the evening, after work, and you’ll still be there at three in the morning. Delia has devised a method which fits in well with ‘our busy modern lives’ and can be taken up and paused and dovetailed with other things in a leisurely way. A long cut.

In summary, you don’t juice the oranges and then cut up the peel, you poach them whole, let them cool and then scrape out the insides. Then you cut up the peel. See what I mean. Easy. The insides come away with all the pith and pips, which is the pectin bearing bit, and the skins are left thin and tender and won’t go all hard when you add the sugar. (I do have one complaint; she tells you to boil the stuff for far too long once the sugar is in, but you can be the judge of that. I will tell you my version.)

1 kg Seville oranges
1 unwaxed lemon
5 pints water
2kg granulated sugar

Put the fruit into a preserving pan with the water and bring slowly up to simmering point. Cover the pan with a double thickness of foil and reduce heat so that the fruit poaches very gently without the liquid evaporating. This will take about three hours. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool.

When fruit is cool enough to handle (I left it overnight) remove from liquid with a slotted spoon. Cut fruit in half. With a spoon scoop out the flesh, the pips and the pith and put into a medium saucepan. Discard the lemon peel but keep the orange.

Add 1 pint of the poaching liquid to the saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool a little, then put into a sieve lined with a large square of muslin. Allow to drain.

Meanwhile, cut up the orange peel as thin or thick as you like and put back into the remaining poaching liquid in the preserving pan. If you feel you lost a lot of the liquid during the poaching now is the moment to redress the balance.

When the fruit and pips mixture has drained take up the corners of the muslin and twist really really tightly so that the pectin is squeezed out. Discard the detritus. Add the liquid to the preserving pan. Leave for several hours or overnight.

When you are ready to take up the cooking again, warm the sugar through in a low oven for about 10 mins, then place the preserving pan on the stove, start heating it and pour in the warmed sugar all in one go. Let the sugar dissolve slowly and completely, then boil hard until a set it reached. Start testing in about 45 minutes.

Allow the marmalade to stand for ten minutes to let the peel distribute itself evenly, then fill clean warm jars and seal.

This makes about five pounds of dark marmalade that absolutely zings with the sharp tang of Seville. Not to everyone’s taste, but certainly to mine.


ciel said...

Oh, I am envious. No Sevilles to be found in my area of the states. I've searched high and low, only to find them at an exorbitant price online - far out of my reach.
So, I'll live vicariously through your beautiful post.
Thanks for sharing!

June said...

Ciel - such a lovely name - I don't think anybody except the Brits buys Seville oranges so you're not alone!

lindy said...

None here either, I've looked and looked.

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