Where else would one look for the basic guide to tweak a little, but the WI? Ah, but even the professionals forgot the most important bit …
… the ultimate reward!
Jars filled, sealed, and cooling?
Ready to do the washing-up? DON’T! Not yet.
Take a moment, butter a couple of slices of good home-made bread, and add the still-warm scrapings from the marmalade pot. Unbeatable.
It does not matter how well your marmalade turns out, or how much you and yours appreciate it over the weeks and months to come. Your taste buds are hard-wired to a treasured secret – just how much better that fleeting, tart and zingy, warm and aromatic, “cook’s moment” was. Enjoy.
For 4-5 1lb jars
- 1lb/450g limes
- 8oz/225g lemons
- 2½lb/1.2kg sugar [Actually the WI recipe suggests 3lb/1.4kg, but I like my marmalade a little sharper.]
- 3 pints/1.75 litres water
Method – how I do it.
- With a very sharp knife, peel the thinnest layer of coloured peel you can from the fruit. Chop very finely, and pop into your pan.
- Quarter the fruit, and squeeze the juice over the chopped peel.
- Chop the “gubbins” – the remains of the rind, pith, and membranes into several pieces and place in a bowl, lined with a clean tea cloth. Or muslin, if you have it. I don’t.
- Tie up the tea-towel/muslin with string and add to the pan.
- Add the water, and leave the pan to soak overnight. Next day, bring the pan to the boil, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer very gently for two hours – until the peel is so soft that it can be squeezed between two fingers.
- Remove from the heat. Take the string of the “gubbins bag” and suspend it over the pan to drain. I leave it for maybe twelve hours; basically overnight.
- Next day, squeeze as much liquid as you can from the “gubbins bag” into the pan.
- Put 5 clean 1lb jam jars into the oven to sterilise (at 120°C/250°F, Gas Mark ½ for 10 minutes or more). Pop two saucers into the freezer.
- Add the sugar to the pan; heat gently until it is fully dissolved.
- Bring the pan to a rolling boil, and boil for 10-12 minutes on the highest heat possible, without stirring. After 10 minutes (on my cooker), the roiling bubbles noticeably change texture – they become bigger and “glue-ier”. Pop a wee drop of the marmalade on to the saucer from the freezer, and leave in the fridge for a minute or two. Push the drop with your finger tip. If it wrinkles, firm and jelly-like, then your marmalade is ready.
- Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes, and stir gently to distribute the peel. Pour the marmalade into the warmed jars and cover with lids, or waxed discs followed by a cellophane top and a rubber band.