February is the month for making marmalade at Wares of Knutsford as we celebrate the nation’s undying passion for this delightfully tangy citrus preserve.
Believe it or not, making marmalade is easy
It really is! There is a certain degree of mythology surrounding jams and marmalades, mainly related to the difficulties of achieving a set. However if you follow a few simple guidelines you shouldn’t have any trouble. Making marmalade is not only easy but very satisfying, provided that you use good quality ingredients.
Seville oranges are the traditional marmalade fruit but you can experiment with any kind of citrus fruit including lemons, limes and grapefruit. Preserving is usually done on a large scale and the key to success is simplicity; at least until you are confident in your marmalade making skills, at which point you can start adding chilli, cardamom or other exotic ingredients.
Proving that making marmalade is easy
The best way to slay the beast is to get on with the job. Before you begin, put a saucer in the freezer, then start by peeling your fruit and shredding it. The thickness of your shred should be according to personal taste, but it is usually best to start with a medium sized shred.
The pith is usually removed and cooked with the marmalade in a muslin bag. You need the pectin released by the pith in order to achieve that magical set but most people prefer not to eat it as it is rather bitter. Unlike some jams, marmalade doesn’t require extra pectin to be added because there’s plenty already in the peel and pith.
Cook the peel and the pithy muslin bag with the orange flesh in enough water to cover the fruit, simmering for a good hour to soften it all up. Then you add the same amount of sugar as water, so four cups of water, for example, requires four cups of sugar.
Keep the heat low and stir gently until the sugar completely dissolves, then bring the mixture to a rapid boil. Boil for around 15 minutes then start testing for that set. Take your frozen saucer and put a drop of marmalade on it. After a minute, use your forefinger to gently prod the marmalade – if it is still runny, keep boiling and re-testing regularly. If the drop has formed a waxy skin which wrinkles to the touch, your marmalade is ready to remove from the heat.