Citrus is in abundance at this time of year and I have just been harvesting my first crop of limes and lemons – more exciting than watching the Olympics?! It also means that I have been the grateful recipient of buckets and bags of oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, tangelos and pomelos.
As we had just finished our final jar of last years’ batch it was time to pull out this tried and true easy recipe.
1 kilo of ripe oranges. (You can use a mix of citrus)
A WORD ABOUT ORANGES: Just picked from the tree is best and I prefer the thin skinned ones – thick skin and too much pith will make your marmalade bitter. I have made lots of marmalade from store bought oranges, but you really do have to avoid the overripe ones and those with a ‘waxed’ skin. Success with marmalade really depends on the pectin content of the fruit which decreases as the fruit gets older.
1 lime (optional-I just like the combination)
2 lemons, juice and pips (gives a nice tangy flavour and the pips add pectin)
White granulated sugar – about 1kg (see note)
Filtered water – enough to cover the fruit once it is cut up
1. Slice the fruit thinly. I use the thin slicing blade on my food processor otherwise it is a pretty time consuming and messy business – this way all the juice is saved (otherwise you end up with juice running off the bench-top!) Quarter the fruit first, leaving the skin on, and cut off the thick ends of the fruit and any white pithy bits out of the middle (this makes it bitter.) Add any pips that may be in the fruit.
2. Put in a non-reactive, heavy based saucepan.
3. Add the juice and pips of two lemons (you will remove all the pips at the end of cooking)
4. Cover sliced fruit with filtered water and leave to stand overnight (or eight hours) with lid on.
5. With a cup measure work out how many cupfuls of fruit/water mix you have. THIS IS IMPORTANT because you will need the same amount of cupfuls of sugar.
6. After the sliced fruit has soaked overnight, bring to boil and simmer for one hour – making sure it does not ‘catch’ on the bottom by giving an occasional stir.
7. Thoroughly wash the jars and lids you are going to use (this is where a dishwasher is a godsend!) and dry-off in a warm oven for about one hour – make sure it is not too hot or the jars will crack. This sterilizes the jars so the marmalade will keep and not go mouldy. At this point PUT A SAUCER IN THE FREEZER – trust me!!
8. When the fruit has simmered for an hour, add the measured sugar. Remember – it is the same amount as fruit/water.
This batch was eight cupfuls of sliced fruit and water so I needed eight cupfuls of sugar.
NOTE: If you are making this in the winter time you will need to warm the sugar in the oven before you add it to the fruit. Putting cold sugar in stops the cooking process.
9. Almost there! When you have added the sugar BOIL RAPIDLY until the marmalade begins to ‘get a bit crinkly around the edges’. This is where the saucer from the freezer comes in. Test to see if the marmalade has reached ‘setting point’ by putting a spoonful of the mix on the saucer. If a skin forms on top of the marmalade it is ready (push it gently with your finger) If not, keep simmering rapidly for a few more minutes. Don’t forget to stir it as, at this point, it can easily catch on the bottom! This last stage can take anything from a few minutes to about 20. In the picture above, you can see that the marmalade is already ‘crinkly’ and sticking to the sides of the pan – this happened after just a few minutes of adding the sugar, because the fruit contained a so much pectin. DO NOT CONTINUE TO COOK AFTER IT HAS REACHED SETTING POINT.
10. Skim off the pips pips with a slotted spoon. It is now ready to put into the sterilized jars. TAKE EXTRA CARE BECAUSE THE HOT SUGARY MIXES LIKE THIS CAN BURN BADLY. I use a small metal jug to decant it. Cover the jars with a clean tea towel until it has cooled down then put lids on. If you put the lids on while it is hot, condensation forms and can make it go mouldy.
NOTE: The process of writing this – in a way that I hope is clear to others – has made me realise just how much I have learned along the way – firstly from my mother. I hope you too find it useful and pass it on to someone else.
NOTE: DON’T MAKE THE MISTAKE THAT MY DAUGHTER DID and leave the blade inside the food processor whilst slicing on the top. You can imagine what she ended up with – mush!