I woke up to torrential rain again this morning. Not a great start when I’d been awake for hours in the middle of the night for no apparent reason, with a Neneh Cherry earworm going round and round in my head! Then, just as I was serving an early breakfast to a guest, a white van appeared on the drive, the doorbell rang and I was suddenly running around like a headless chicken, cos my beloved was in the shower! Yes, today, on Friday 13th, we are getting solar panels fitted! What an auspicious date to take such a big step. When you’re trying to cook bacon, find the fuse box and deal with workmen bringing boxes of stuff through the house, the desire to go back to bed is overwhelming. But here we are a couple of hours later, breakfast is done, guests departed, dishwasher loaded and the rain has stopped at last.
Of course, today the washing machine gets a rest and it looks as if the pork and aubergine dish I was going to make a start on will have to wait, as I now have a strange man in the kitchen fiddling with the sockets. Never a dull moment here at Rossclare Lodge! So I’ll be tidying the store cupboard and finding a home for the marmalade and fruit compote that I’ve made this week. I’ve been waiting since July for January to arrive with the advent of Seville oranges so that I could make some marmalade again. Our stock has long since run out as I gave away all the homemade marmalade before we left Germany. So now we have a good supply and a spare batch of oranges are residing in the freezer for later in the year. I’m feeling very pleased with myself indeed!
So, if you can’t manage a visit to us this year, you can enjoy the marmalade instead. Here’s how I made it:
1kg seville oranges
1.8kg sugar (I like to use half demerera, but you can use all refined if you like, no need for preserving sugar as there’s plenty of pectin in the fruit)
1 lemon – juice & rind
- Juice the oranges and save juice for later. I always microwave the oranges for 30-60 seconds to release the juice more easily.
- Scrape all the pips and pith out of the oranges and tie it in a muslin bag
- Shred the fruit. I like mine thin-medium cut, but here you get too choose if you want it chunky, thick cut or thin cut.
- Put the fruit and juice in a preserving pan and add the water
- Juice the lemon, remove the pith(which you can add to the muslin bag) and shred the peel. Add this to the oranges
- Now add the muslin bag to the pan, turn on the heat and simmer for about 90-120 minutes until the peel is nice and soft
- Wash the jars thoroughly and sterilise in the oven or microwave. Alternatively put them through the dishwasher. Keep them warm for the potting stage.
- When the fruit is soft, remove from the heat and take out the muslin bag. Your liquid will have reduced by about one third. if it hasn’t, return to the heat for a few minutes.
- Now add the sugar – I preheat mine in a metal roasting dish in a low oven for about 10 minutes beforehand so that it doesn’t bring the temperature of the fruit mix down too much. Stir well until the sugar has all dissolved.
- Bring to a rolling boil and let it boil nicely for 10-15 minutes by which time it should have reached a good set.
- Remove from the heat and stir a little. Get your warm jars ready on a tray.
- Bottle the marmalade whilst it’s still hot. Fill to the top of the jars, put the lids on and tip the jars upside down to seal and prevent mould from forming later.
- Allow to cool then make toast and enjoy!
And the great thing is, when the jar is empty you can use it again for the next batch or make a posy of flowers to adorn your room. I love of bit of reusing and recycling, don’t you?