The tail end of winter can be a time when our moods take a slump; it’s dark, gloomy, constantly raining and cold – bone cold. It’s hard to motivate yourself, particularly since all you want to do is stay in, curled up with a magazine and wrapped in a blanket. After my second blanket-ridden day, I felt the need to actually DO something. Something to snap me out of this funk… and then I opened my Olive magazine and saw how to make marmalade.
I’ve never made marmalade before; I’ve always thought of it as complicated and way out of my skill set. But, determined to be more of a risk taker for 2016, I thought I’d give it a go. Admittedly, I know marmalade making is not actually pushing the risk taking boundaries too far, but it’s early 2016 and we’ve still got a way to go yet!
Here’s a step by step guide to making your own delicious marmalade:
Marmalade (makes 4 jars)
Time: 4½ hours plus overnight soaking
Halve the oranges and squeeze the juice through a sieve into a large bowl, collecting the pith and pips. Cut the orange peel into shreds the width and length you like your marmalade bits to be. Add the shreds to the juice as you cut them, then add enough cold water to cover the peel completely. Tie the pith and pips into a piece of muslin and drop them into the water as well. Leave overnight.
Tip everything into a large pan, bring it to a simmer and cook for 2-3 hours or until the peel is soft (mine only took just over an hour). Add more water to keep the level topped up.
When the peel is soft, strain it out and measure the liquid. You want about one litre, so add more water if you need it. Discard the muslin with the pips in it.
Put the liquid, peel, sugar and lemon juice in a very large, wide saucepan or preserving pan and gently heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Skim off any scum, then boil until the marmalade reaches 105/106C on a sugar thermometer. (I don’t have one so instead I placed a saucer in the fridge for about 30 minutes and then poured on some marmalade - you’ll know it’s ready when the marmalade wrinkles when you push it. If it doesn’t then keep simmering and skimming off the scum until it does.)
Turn off the heat and stir in the whisky, if using, and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
While the marmalade is boiling, sterilise four jars (about 400ml each) and lids by washing them and then drying them in a low oven. When the marmalade has rested for 10 minutes, ladle into the jars and put the lids on tightly.
As risk taking goes, marmalade making was a great success and easier than I thought. I’m even thinking of making another batch but swapping some oranges for grapefruits and lemons. I know, crazy right?!
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