Mid-winter is the time to be thinking of marmalade.
If nothing else it’ll take your mind off that other old rubbish that happens towards the end of December.
Seville oranges are in season from December to February so you’ve plenty of time to be thinking about it. If you have some indifferent honey you’d like to use up, here’s a good target – oranges and honey together develop a superb depth of flavour.
The thing to remember about making marmalade, or any other type of jam, is that – it won’t set till you have evaporated off enough water to allow it to reach 105 degrees C. There are two ways to achieve this – the quick way where you boil it like mad or the slow way where you just let it bubble away for a while – either way will get you there but marmalade seems to benefit from going the long way round.
Pressure cooking allows you to use the minimum of water… and time for that matter.
- 1kg Seville oranges preferable the same size and skin-texture – try to choose smooth skinned fruits – the knobbly ones have skins that seem never to soften;
- 500ml water;
- 2.4kg Honey
- Scrub the fruit;
- Pressure cook the oranges with the water at full pressure for 15 minutes;
- Put the honey to warm gently – just enough so you can strain it if it needs it;
- Remove oranges from the liquor and allow to cool so you can handle them without scalding yourself. The skins should be so soft your fingers go right though if you pinch them. If not, cook a bit longer;
- Cut each orange in half, scoop out innards – pips, pulp and everything (the liver, the lights and the gall and all) – and set the peels aside. Put the pips and pulp back in with the liquor;
- Bring back to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes;
- Meanwhile slice up the cooked peel and put into a large pan;
- Run contents of pips and pulp through jelly bag into the pan with the shredded peel in it;
- Squeeze jelly bag till pips squeak and all pectin is removed – it should gather on your fingers as a thick yellowish paste – keep squeezing till there isn’t any more. Make sure your hands are nice and clean before you start this because, like making pastry, they will be very clean when you’ve finished!
- Remove pips and membranes from jelly bag then run the warmed honey through jelly bag to join with shredded peel, pectin and strained liquor;
- Bring to the boil and boil hard for 10 minutes then test for setting point;
- Alternatively let it simmer for a couple of hours but keep an eye on it;
- Either way, be careful not to pass the setting point and over-cook it or you will destroy the pectin and it will never set;
- Meanwhile put the jars into the oven at 120 for about 12 minutes;
- When setting point is reached, allow marmalade to cool for about 10 minutes before bottling or all the little bits of peel will rise to the top instead of being nicely distributed throughout the jar.
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