tawny marmalade

Chris called this “mahogany marmalade” as it’s a fair bit darker than tawny!  An accident, but a tasty one, because I didn’t have quite enough demerara sugar to make up 2kg, so I improvised with what was in the cupboard. This made 6 1lb jars. If you put all the shreds of orange peel in you’ll probably need more.

  • 1kg seville oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 1.8kg demerara sugar
  • 200g dark soft brown sugar

Wash and dry the fruit. Pour 2 litres of cold water into a large pan (it really does have to be the biggest one you’ve got, it WILL boil over…).  If you’re making a lot of jams and pickles then invest in a maslin pan, like this one: Lakeland maslin pans

Squeeze the juice from the oranges and lemons and add to the water.  Scrape out the pips and pith from the oranges with a teaspoon (don’t bother with the lemon) and put it all in a muslin square, tie it up and put in the pan with the juice and the water.  Now attack the orange peel. I cut it as fine as I possibly could, and put in only about two-thirds of the bits. If you like chunkier marmalade then put the whole lot in.  Add the peel to the pan, and leave to soak overnight.  

The next day, put a small plate into your freezer (you will be using this to test for a set later).  Bring the panto the boil and let it all simmer very gently for 1.5 to 2 hours until the peel is very soft.

Squeeze as much juice from the muslin bag into the pan as you can, and put it to one side.  Add the sugar to the pan, bring slowly to the boil, stirring all the while so that the sugar dissolves properly, then whack up the heat and boil it rapidly for about 20 minutes.

Test it for a set by spooning a small amount onto the cold plate you put in the freezer. Leave it for a minute and if the surface is wrinkly when you push it with your finger, then it’s set.  If it’s not wrinkly but just runny, boil the marmalade for another few minutes and try again.

Switch off the heat when setting point is reached, and leave it to settle for about 15 minutes. This is just enough time to sterilise your jars and lids. Either run the jars through the dishwasher, or wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and put them in a low oven for 5 minutes to dry out.  Put your lids in a saucepan with boiling water to cover, and boil them for 3 minutes. Take them out and dry them thoroughly before you use them to seal the jars – kitchen paper is best. The jars should be warm when you put the marmalade in them or they may crack owing to the temperature difference.

Skim off any scummy stuff on the surface of the marmalade and throw it away.  Spoon the rest of the marmalade into the jars and seal with a lid. I don’t bother with wax discs if the lids are new or show no signs of discoloration- if the marmalade or jam is still pretty hot, just screw on the lid tightly and turn the jar upside down briefly.

rhubarb jam

2014-04-17 09.51.46I love rhubarb. And the early forced rhubarb that is almost shocking pink is gorgeous, but unless you grow it yourself it’s hugely expensive!  This rhubarb came from the allotment of one of Chris’s colleagues, so it’s nice and young but not completely pink, and perfect for jam.

  • 1kg rhubarb, wiped, trimmed and chopped into 1cm chunks
  • 1kg jam sugar
  • 2 or 3 oranges
  • 75g stem ginger preserved in syrup

This quantity made four 1lb jars.  Put a layer of jam sugar in the bottom of your preserving pan and cover with a layer of rhubarb.  Continue layering the sugar and rhubarb, and finish with a layer of sugar.  Squeeze the juice from the oranges (should be about 100ml but it’s not a problem if there’s a bit more), and tip it over the sugar and rhubarb mixture.  Put the orange peel in the pan as well – you’ll be fishing this out at the end, so don’t bother chopping it up.  Chop the stem ginger pieces very finely and add those to the pan. Cover the pan with a clean teatowel and leave it for a couple of hours, or even overnight, to draw out some of the juice from the rhubarb.  This helps to keep the rhubarb chunks whole when you’re boiling it up.

When it’s been standing for a while, put it onto the hob and bring to the boil gently. Stir it carefully so that you don’t squash all the rhubarb chunks to mush.  When all the sugar as dissolved, turn up the heat to maximum and boil rapidly for about 5 minutes. Test for a set by pouring a bit onto a really cold plate and waiting a minute or so. If you can see the jam wrinkling up when you push your finger through it, then it’s done.  If it’s not, then keep boiling it for another few minutes and test again.  If it’s done, take it off the heat and leave it to settle for five minutes.  Take out the orange peel, then pour the jam into warmed sterilised jars.  We have an almost endless supply of empty jamjars thanks to Julie at the Eccles Cakery, who uses industrial quantities of jam for making cakes and gives us all the empties!

This recipe is based on one from the River Cottage Handbook on preserves, which is incredibly useful for all kinds of jam and chutney recipes.  I did tweak it quite a bit as the recipe called for forced rhubarb and a quick boil for a soft set, and I’ve made too much runny jam in my life to want to make more on purpose. Rhubarb contains very little pectin, so jam sugar is a must for this.

 

Seville marmalade

marmalade
First attempt used the recipe printed on the box of oranges we got from Waitrose (how middle class are we), but I did hack it around a bit as I don’t like huge amounts of “bacon rinds” in my marmalade.  This made 5 1lb jars. If you put all the shreds of orange peel in you’ll probably need 6.

  • 1kg seville oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 2kg granulated sugar

Wash and dry the fruit. Pour 2 litres of cold water into a large pan (it really does have to be the biggest one you’ve got, it WILL boil over…). Squeeze the juice from the oranges and lemons and add to the water.  Scrape out the pips and pith from the oranges with a teaspoon (don’t bother with the lemon) and put it all in a muslin square, tie it up and put in the pan with the juice and the water.  Now attack the orange peel. I cut it as fine as I possibly could, and put in only about two-thirds of the bits. If you like chun

kier marmalade then put the whole lot in.  Add the peel to the pan, bring to the boil and let it all simmer very gently for 1.5 to 2 hours until the peel is very soft.

Squeeze as much juice from the muslin bag into the pan as you can, and put it to one side.  Add the sugar to the pan, bring slowly to the boil so that the sugar dissolves properly, then whack up the heat and boil it rapidly for about 15-20 minutes.

Test it for a set by spooning a small amount onto a cold plate. Leave it for a minute and if the surface is wrinkly when you push it with your finger, then it’s set.  If it’s not wrinkly but just runny, boil the marmalade for another few minutes and try again.

Switch off the heat when setting point is reached, and leave it to settle for 15 minutes. This is just enough time to sterilise your jars and lids. Either run them through the dishwasher, or wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and put them in a low oven for 5 minutes to dry out.

Skim off any scummy stuff on the surface of the marmalade and throw it away.  Spoon the rest of the marmalade into the jars and seal with a lid. I don’t bother with wax discs – if the marmalade or jam is still pretty hot, just screw on the lid tightly and turn the jar upside down briefly.

Christmas mincemeat – no mixed peel!

I hate mixed peel and I hate shop-bought mincemeat. So home-made mincemeat it is, courtesy of Delia Smith’s original recipe with a bit of tweaking. Super easy and very satisfying.

  • 1 lb (450 g) Bramley apples, peeled, cored and grated
  • 8 oz (225 g) shredded vegetable suet
  • 12 oz (350 g) raisins
  • 8 oz (225 g) sultanas
  • 8 oz (225 g) currants
  • 8 oz (225 g) a combination of chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, dried blueberries and chopped dried cherries (anything but mixed peel)
  • 12 oz (350 g) soft dark brown sugar
  • Grated zest and juice 2 oranges
  • Grated zest and juice 2 lemons
  • 2 oz (50 g) whole almonds, cut into slivers
  • 4 level teaspoons mixed ground spice
  • ½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons brandy, calvados, southern comfort or any other aromatic spirit that takes your fancy

You will also need 6 x 1lb (350ml) jam jars and 6 waxed discs

All you do is combine all the ingredients, except for the brandy, in a large mixing bowl, stirring them and mixing them together very thoroughly indeed. Then cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight or for 12 hours, so the flavours have a chance to mingle and develop. After that, pre-heat the oven to gas mark ¼, 225°F (110°C). Cover the bowl loosely with foil and place it in the oven for 3 hours, then remove the bowl from the oven. Don’t worry about the appearance of the mincemeat, which will look positively swimming in fat. This is how it should look. As it cools, stir it from time to time; the fat will coagulate and, instead of it being in tiny shreds, it will encase all the other ingredients. When the mincemeat is quite cold, stir well again, adding the brandy. Pack in jars that have been sterilised (see below). When filled, cover with waxed discs and seal. The mincemeat will keep for ages in a cool, dark cupboard – I have kept it for up to 2 years with no ill effects.

NOTE: To sterilise jars, wash the jars and lids in warm soapy water, rinse well, then dry thoroughly with a clean tea cloth, place them on a baking tray and put into a medium oven, gas mark 4, 350°F, 180°C, for 5 minutes.