My silly notion that we might have enough of 2015's marmalade to keep us going was... well, just silly. A couple of days' effort, with lots more juicing, chopping, boiling and a little wiping of steamy windows, has produced the supply shown above. What follows is a final round-up of my 2016 marmalade activity.
Last week I made precious jars of the marmalade master at Melrose & Morgan, Nick Selby's, lovely recipe... Plus that rhubarb and rose teabag jelly thing, of course. That just left a pile of Seville oranges to be dealt with. For these I deserted any books I have and internetted it for a while, coming up with this 'ultimate recipe'. I'm not sure about the tag. As long as I'm cooking, I'll enjoy the likelihood that 'ultimate' is out of reach, just around the corner... It helps in the struggle for perfection!
The immediate difference to all previously made marmalade recipes was the cooking of whole oranges. Not that I hadn't done it before in another situation. Thoughts turned straight to Claudia Roden and, more specifically, to her glorious 'Middle Eastern Orange Cake' in Diana Henry's 'Crazy Water Pickled Lemons'. The recipe lured me into buying my first Diana Henry cook book... all others were quickly sourced or pre-ordered when announced.
Back to Seville. The cooked oranges were a treat. The peel was blissfully easy to chop. The inner pulp scraped out readily and created a lovely pectin bag. This instigated a spot of silliness on my Facebook page. I might as well post it here in a last-ditch attempt to get it out of my system:
Setting point was reached quicker than ever before and in no time jars were filled and lids tightened. There were enough oranges to double the recipe so I decided to have another 'Marmalade muckabout' with the last batch. All was done as per the recipe but I introduced two flavours of my choice to the remaining juice and cut peel. Split into two smaller pans, I added powdered liquorice to one and crushed cardamom pods to the other. To give you an idea, I had 560g of juice and sugar for each before adding the peel. Tasting was dangerous as I was dipping into very hot liquid. Drips onto cold saucers told me when both were fine. The liquorice was just right, and remains so. It needs to be used sparingly, though... unless you are a full-strength addict. I used a rounded teaspoonful. The cardamom left its traces very subtly. I would use more than the dozen pods next time or, perhaps, just the seeds from as many. I set both types in mini jars as potential gifts. They are cloudy compared to the clarity of the 'straight' batch.
The maslin pan is away now, waiting for summer fruits. The members of that opening photograph parade have all been safely stored. I continue to identify them using a roll of self-adhesive supermarket labels. The designs vary according to my whim. I'll keep adding copies of them to the LABELS album under the PHOTOS menu.
With coloured pens out, I relaxed into a couple of hours' artwork. Nothing too developed but at least no sticky post-marmalade marks.
There has been inspiration from various quarters during this 'Orange Period'. Let's acknowledge some of them here:
Diana Henry... we meet quietly every Sunday in 'Stella' magazine and she gives me advice, inspiration and renewed pleasure whenever I take her down from a bookshelf.
Claudia Roden... just take your pick from a woman whose Wikipedia page says bugger all about her wonderful wide-ranging achievements.