Marmalade and jam have always been something on an enigma to me. Does one have to get special oranges? What about the type of sugar? Do you need a jam thermometer... the questions go on. Well happily, I've discovered that you don't necessarily need all of the above to make a tasty attempt at good marmalade.
First, source your oranges - I went to the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning, and bought 1.2 kgs of oranges and three lemons from one of the smiliest people I've seen. That's going to work it's way into my marmalade, I'm quite sure.
Darina Allen from Ballymaloe tells us that the word 'marmelade' derives from marlmelo, which is the Portugese word for quince, and that Mary Queen of Scots got a taste for orange preserves from France.
Pre-breakfast, Wiz also frequently recites this particular part of A A Milne's 'The King's Breakfast':
But Marmalade is tasty, if
Now, set aside plenty of time. Jams and marmalades belong in the slow food category and must not be rushed. Allow plenty of time for the fruit to soften as the water reduces; once the sugar has been added, allow it to slowly dissolve and thicken up - time and a slow approach are essential to the success of your marmalade. I decided to add chilli as well - though I did this at a guess and think I might have overdone it! The proof will be in the pudding when Wiz has his toast in the morning.
1.2 kgs oranges
2.4 litres water
1.8 kgs sugar
1 chilli chopped (seeds removed)
Wash your oranges and lemons to remove any grit or dirt, and then halve both and juice them - but bear in mind you'll need the skin later, so don't pound them so hard that it all breaks up! Collect the pips whilst you juice and put these into a muslin cloth (an old bit of thin kanga will work if you don't have muslin). Once you've juiced your oranges and lemons, use a sharp knife to remove the skin. Try not to collect too much pith whilst you are doing this as it makes your marmalade super bitter. Once you've removed the skin, cut it into the size you like best on your toast... I went for long spindly pieces but you could go for short and fat if you prefer that. Pour juice and skin into saucepan together with the 2.4 litres of water. Tie your muslin pip pack to the handle of your saucepan and allow everything to soak for half an hour.
Put your saucepan on a high heat and bring everything to the boil. Leave at a fast simmer for 50 - 60 minutes, and the liquid will reduce significantly.
If you need to sterilise your jars, this is a good time to do it. You'll need around 4 - 5 depending on their size. To sterilise, wash your jars and lids in warm soapy water, and rinse. Place upside down on a baking tray lined with a clean tea towel, and put in a preheated 100C oven for 15 minutes or until dry.
Add the sugar, vanilla pod and chilli. Allow to simmer for another 50 - 60 minutes. Remove any scum that forms on the surface using a metal spoon; this will ensure you are left with clear marmalade at the end. Stir occasionally to ensure nothing catches. You'll need to test your marmalade - and if you don't have a jam thermometer, as I don't - then put a plate in the freezer to cool. When you think the marmalade is ready, put some on the plate, return to the fridge and a few minutes, run your finger through it. If the line remains, then the marmalade is ready.
Immediately pour into your sterilised jars (easier than it sounds - I used a soup ladle), and screw the tops on tight. Cross your fingers that it will cool and thicken to the consistency you want!!