Making marmalade is pure self-indulgence for me. Nobody else in our house likes it, but I love the zesty tang of marmalade on hot buttery toast. Maybe the taste for it is peculiar to the English – peculiar taste buds we must have to like marmite too with its salty bite. Anyway a few times each winter I make a batch of marmalade, sell a few jars at the market and keep the rest to last me till next year. My parents also like it when they visit.
I tried a new mixture of fruits yesterday, adding a couple of limes and tangerines to the usual orange, grapefruit and lemon. True marmalade is made with Seville oranges, a sour variety grown especially for the English marmalade market, but I haven’t ever found any out here in South Africa, so have to mix our sweet oranges with the sourer lemons and grapefruit to get the requisite zingy flavour. When I tried with just oranges, I got a rather dull, sweet orange jam, that I christened Mellow Marmalade – fine for soothing the troubled tastebuds but not very stimulating.
My marmalade production is still in the experimental stages, each batch turning out different, so I have to think up appropriate adjectives to describe the flavour, to remember which is which. It might help the research process if I remembered to write down what I did each time…but I prefer the random element of surprise when it comes to tasting the results, so maybe I never will.Yesterday’s batch is going to be called Fragrant Citrus Medley – the limes give it an extra hint of perfume, and keep the zing alive!
Here is the recipe I use as a basic guide, provided by my mother, who also makes her own supply.
Three Fruit Marmalade Recipe
4 pint/2 litres water
3 ½ lbs/1.6kg sugar (if you use sour Seville oranges you need more sugar – 5lbs)
Wash the fruit, scrubbing the skins. Cut the fruit and rind into shreds, however thick you like your peel in the finished marmalade. Remove any very pithy bits and pips. Usually one should tie these in muslin and cook with the fruit, to get the most pectin available, then remove the whole package pips and all . I haven’t bothered the last cuople of times and the marmalade still seems to set.
Put the fruit and water into a large pan (preferably thick bottomed) and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 1-2 hours until the rind is tender.Add the sugar off the heat and stir till it dissolves. Don’t let the marmalade boil again till it has dissolved. Boil briskly for about 30 minutes. Test for doneness by putting a drop on a cold plate. If it forms a light skin that wrinkles when you push your finger through it is done. Keep testing every five minutes if not. The bubbles also change to be slower, larger rolling bubbles when it is ready. Ladle into hot sterilised jars and seal.
If you would like to try my variation on the fruit mixture, substitute two or three limes for one of the grapefruit and two tangerines for one of the oranges. Any citrus fruits can be made into marmalade. My next experiment is going to include kumquats – we have a small tree here and none of the family really like that sweet/sour explosion on the tastebuds when you bite into them, except me and I can’t eat a whole treeful myself! Happy marmalade-making!