I often feel that the time between Christmas and new year passes at a leisurely gait, and so when the new year finally starts it feels like it needs to up the pace. The first twelve days of this year have flown past for me. It's been busy; starting back at work, exploring some new avenues (more on this next week probably), and getting to grips with the fact that the pretty fairy lights are no longer up to distract us from the wintery gloom.
And of course, in this gloom there is a flash of sunshine. Marmalade! Yes, another reason that the last few days have been so busy is that it's marmalade season again, and although we still have a few jars (ahem, three boxes full) left from last year's ventures, I just can't let the season pass without making just a few batches. Seville oranges have such a short period, and I adore the heady smell that fills the house as I boil them. It's unlike any other citrus as it's not an especially fresh, clean or clear smell. Instead it's perfectly fitting with the drizzle outside. It's homey, almost spicey, and permeates the house for hours.
Yesterday I made my special Seville and Single Malt, and today it was my Seville and ginger (phew, that's going to pack a punch this year once it's matured!).
I know I should stop there, that we really don't need any more marmalade in the house, but I have a feeling there might be a few more Sevilles on our shopping list next week!
If you can get your hands on them I can highly recommend a day of marmalade making. It's not swift like jam, and takes a bit more patience, but I think it's worth all the work. I don't make marmalade with "normal" oranges as I find it too tooth-achingly sweet, but this recipe does work with them so if you fancy it by all means have a go.
Seville Marmalade - Makes aprox. 450g jars.
1k Seville oranges, buttons removed (and scrubbed if they were waxed, gently washed if not)
2kg granulated sugar
100ml fresh lemon juice.
Place your washed oranges, whole, in a large pan (that you have a lid for) and add 2.5 litres of water. Cover and bring to the boil, and then simmer gently for aprox 3 hours, or until the skins can be easily pierced with a fork. Leave to cool enough to handle. DO NOT DISCARD WATER.
Place a sieve over a bowl and one by one gently cut the oranges in half and scoop the insides out with a fork, allowing the bowl to catch any liquid. Place the orange halves on a chopping board and cut into slices of the thickness you prefer (we're a chunky household).
Measure the remaining cooking liquid, with any caught from the orange halving. You should have about 1.7 litres. If not, make it up to this amount. (if you have too much, simmer it down).
Place the orange slices in a preserving pan with the liquid, sugar and lemon juice. Heat gently and stir to dissolve the sugar. As soon as the sugar has all been dissolved whack up the heat and get it boiling as soon as possible. You want a steady "rolling" boil. DO NOT STIR - this disrupts the temperature and means it takes longer to reach set.
It will probably take between 10 and 20 mins to reach set. I always test mine on a cold plate as I find I find it more accurate than my thermometre.
Once set is reached, leave it in the pan for aprox. 1o mins so that the peel will distrubute evenly when potting up. Gently skim any scum, and then pot into hot sterile jars and seal immediately.
I always leave mine for at least a month to mature before eating.