Late January 2016
Let me put this in context. What you are about to read was typed almost a year ago. The same season is now upon us and it’s time for the annual making of marmalades. I am still waiting for the complete mix of oranges and grapefruits to arrive at my local shops. This is a reminder to keep checking for availability so that you can stock up on supplies of your chosen jars of trapped citrus sunshine.
This is what I wrote eleven months ago. If you bookmark the post you could refer to it every year at this time…
Early February 2015
nick's 'good morning' breakfast marmalade
Phew... I think I’ve made it by the skin of my teeth! Tooth skin was never going to be an ingredient though. It was blood oranges which were eagerly awaited. Their eventual local availability almost coincided with the disappearance of Seville oranges from the shops. But with the alignment of those two and the addition of pink grapefruit I had the holy trinity which forms the basis of my favourite marmalade.
Here is the recipe.
I make other varieties but this is the firm (I will leave that there) favourite. Oh, the setting point! I have learned to worry less and less about the final consistency of my jammy preserves. You eventually get used to the absence of rhyme or reason in the particular poetry of jam setting. This year’s first batch of marmalades was unsealed and emptied from its jars and brought back to the boil to be rescued from a totally unsettled state. It doesn't happen often and, in any case, I’d rather leave things on the less than sticky side. Too much bubbling will dull flavours and risks an embarrassing ‘burnt bottom’. Always better to under do things here. Go gently.
I can't force anyone to make this but please consider what your reward will be for doing so. The punchy, bright fruit here is the perfect start to any day. You will break free of shop bought product and its predictable fight between bitter and sweet. Yes, this has those elements but they are so delightfully mixed that they form a serene marriage (with just the occasional argument for interest). I am always reminded of the luscious allure of candied peel or, better still, those glistening jewels of dessert fruits confits. This marmalade totally beguiles in the same way... fruits from another climate with great hits of juice, sunshine and 'Refresher' sweets. Sugary syrup is there too but all the while you have the grown-up but playful presence of bitter peel saying, "I'm coming to get you!"
Back to late January 2016 again
Pester your greengrocer for news of deliveries. Buy your ingredients. And take my advice. Make double quantities at the very least... unless you're prepared to suffer withdrawal symptoms two hours after breakfast every morning.