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.)
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.
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.
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