Jun. 13th, 2012 01:04 pm
desperance: (Default)
One spare recipe makes a post, right? Cathyn asked me how I made my marmalade, and I told him; and then I thought, two birds with one stone, post it for everyone.

So: this is my process which is mine, developed through long ages (well, two years? Maybe three?). Technically this is an Oxford marmalade (viz Seville oranges and quite long cooking), but I think it would adapt to other citric fruits.

First, wash and weigh your fruits. Remember that figure.

Now put them in a big heavy pot and cover them with water. Remember that they probably float, so don't be deceived into adding too much water (but don't worry about it either; if you have to cook off extra water, you just get darker richer marmalade). Boil the whole fruits for an hour, then leave them soaking in that same water overnight.

Next day, fish them out and leave the liquid in the pan. Lay doubled-over muslin or cheesecloth in a colander over a bowl. Cut each fruit in half, scoop out all the innards - flesh and seeds together - and dump same in the colander.

Take sugar equal to the original weight of fruit (you did remember that figure, right?), stir it into the liquid in the pan, and set it over a very low flame. Stir occasionally, while you go back to the hollow rinds of your boiled fruit.

Cut each rind into shreds, depending how chunky you like your marmalade, and add those to the pan. Keep stirring to help the sugar dissolve. (You can also warm the sugar in a low oven before you add it; that helps too. I used to buy confectioners' sugar in the UK, but I can't find it over here. Don't buy the stuff with pectin added; you do not need extra pectin. Trust me on this.)

Tie up all the scooped innards in their muslin or cheesecloth, to make a bag of it. Squeeeeze out all the liquid you can, into the bowl beneath (which will already have caught a lot of drippings). Add that liquid to the pan; then add the bag of innards. Retain the colander in the empty bowl; you will need it later.

Don't let the liquid boil until the sugar has dissolved. Once you're happy that it has, bring the thing to a vigorous boil. Stir it often. If you have a thermometer, bring it up to 220-odd degrees, the setting point for jam. Whether you do or not, test it anyway on a cold saucer (see internet for details). Once it starts wrinkling, it's ready. If you're making lime marmalade, test early and often; lime seems willing to set before it should be ready.

Once it's at the setting point, turn off the heat and let it sit undisturbed for ten minutes (this helps prevent all the peel from floating to the surface in the jar. Don't ask me why, but it does). Meanwhile, fish out the bag of innards (carefully! boiling sugar! very hot innards!), set it in the colander and squeeeeeze out as much liquid as you can, using a wooden spoon or a spatula or anything except your bare hands for the purpose.

Empty all that extra liquid back into the pan; it's not just full of flavour, it's full of pectin too.

If there's any scum sitting on the surface of your pot, stir a lump of butter into it. That dissolves the scum. Don't ask me why.

Meanwhile, ever since you warmed the sugar in the oven, you've been sterilising jars in there too, right? See internet for details. Or you could just run them through a dishwasher cycle with no soap, that works too.

Fill your hot jars. Carefully. Apply clean lids - using oven gauntlets: not-quite-boiling sugar! very hot jars! - and allow to cool.

Wipe off any sticky spillage, label up and you're done.
desperance: (Default)
Just sayin'. In twenty-three days, I shall be en route to California.

Potlatch, FogCon. Are you coming? If not, why not? ("Inappropriate distance" is not an excuse; I myself live at a wildly inappropriate distance, and I'll be there.) I do now have my FogCon schedule, which I will post in the traditional manner, but I'll give it a few days to settle in case anything changes. At the moment it's looking like two panels and a reading, yay. Please come to my reading! It'll be Friday afternoon, if it doesn't shift. There may be cupcakes.

In the meantime, between now and then, between here and there - well, I have to finish a novel. I have not flung myself quite into a death-or-glory charge at it, because as we know I am not good at that; but a steady fifteen hundred words a day will bring me in on time if I can bring it in to length. As we know, I am not good at that either; I always overrun, word-wise, in the first draft. I am mad keen not to be late with this, though, so I may up the daily rate. If I can write fifteen hundred, I can write two thousand, right?

Also, a plot would be nice. I'm just sayin'.

Also, I have to make marmalade. I have almost all the oranges. (I wish that help-yourself greengrocers would view it as an obligation to have a scale to hand, for weigh-it-yourself purposes. I wanted two kilos and came home yesterday with 1.7, because I couldn't weigh the bags before I reached the till, and by then I wasn't going to queue again for four oranges more. For the love of four oranges, though, I will go back today.) I have sugar, and jars, and technique. And pretty labels. And waxed discs. And time. Of course I have time. There's always time for long slow cooking.

Between now and the marmalade, though, lie twelve hundred unwritten words. I will reach 50K before I leave the library. Just sayin'...

[ETA: there will be early copies of Hidden Cities by Daniel Fox at FogCon. We have been promised this. You can be among the very first to own one, two weeks ahead of the common populace. All you have to do is be there, and waft a few dollars in an appropriate direction. Still not coming...?]
desperance: (Default)
Ooh, now...

I, who do not eat breakfast: I made myself a teeny-tiny toast of soda bread, and slathered it with butter, and applied marmalade thereunto.

To the eye? It is stiff, but not I think too stiff; it is golden-dark, with the emphasis a little more on gold. Coulda been darker, but I wasn't going to cheat with treacle, which is apparently how some people do it.

To the palate? Wow. It is all about the balance, balance in depth, with - to my taste - just enough sweetness to offset the bitter, and the bitter is why we use Sevilles in the first place. If you want a sweet flavour, use another fruit.

I was worried that I had overcooked the peel, but not by this sample. It was only a small sample, and maybe the more-resistant rises; I might need to test further down the jar. Without, somehow, making a habit of it.

In sum, then: I think this stuff is just lovely. I am excessively pleased with myself, and am going to buy more Sevilles in town today. And more muslin.

In other news, I have bitten my tongue. There may be a reason why I don't eat breakfast.
desperance: (Default)
I am as it happens a great lover of marmalade, but not a great eater thereof. I don't eat breakfast, you see: and it's so much a breakfast preserve, I am so very hidebound about these things, I barely get through one jar a year in cakes and puddings and such.

But. It's Seville-orange season, those lovely bitter things are in the shops, and I have failed to resist them. I shall make marmalade, and if it's any good I'll just have to give it away. Or make more cakes and puddings.

So - because I am after all Oxonian, and I wouldn't say it's the only kind worth eating, but, y'know: Oxford is Best - I went looking for recipes for Oxford marmalade.

And found many: and, y'know what? They're all different. Strikingly different. You should quarter the oranges, or peel them, or both, or neither. You should add lemons, or apples, or bananas, or none of the above. You should, or shouldn't, use black treacle. Or brown sugar. You should use an equal weight of sugar to oranges. Or double that, or less.

Etc, etc. Lacking any useful guidance, I am just inventing my own recipe based on no experience whatever. If it works, I'll record it here. If it doesn't, you will never hear of this again...


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